SHERIDAN — Make that two super-local sports teams at Sheridan College.
With five Sheridan High School grads signed on to help the Lady Generals soccer team mesh in their first-ever season this fall and six more on the boys team, it’s not hard to figure out why the college board decided to add the sport to its athletic offerings back in January.
Jacey Repsis from the class of 2011, Hartley Stewart, Stephany Sessions, and Macey Reid from the class of 2012, and Celena Kelly from the class of 2013 will reunite to play for first-year coach Stefan Skillman.
Stewart and Sessions spent the last year playing college sports. Repsis and Reid weren’t sure if they’d play soccer again, and Kelly just completed her high school career. Still, they all seem to have one thing in common: they want to play soccer, and they want to play together, at home.
“I missed out on soccer my senior year, and I guess this is my last opportunity to play,” Sessions told the Press Saturday. She tore her anterior crucial ligament during her senior basketball season and played for the SC women’s basketball team last year where she averaged just over three points per game.
“After experiencing a year in college playing sports, it’s nothing like high school,” she said. “You don’t have a close-knit team like you do in high school. I’m excited to be able to play with these girls again.”
Every college team is built with the sometimes volatile, sometimes cohesive make-up of players from different parts of the country. That’s what is so unique about SC soccer, and it’s something that’s become apparent even in it’s youth as a program — teams may be gelling before fall rolls around.
Not many things build chemistry like a state championship, however, those teams traditionally break after high school. It’s ucommon to see more than two prep teammates playing on the same team in college.
Kelly, Stewart and Sessions played on the SHS 2011 girls state volleyball championship team, which was the first volleyball title for the school in 25 years. Stewart, Kelly and Reid also played last spring to a runner-up finish at the 4A state soccer tournament, falling just short, by a 1-0 score in the title game.
For Repsis, she brings experience at keeper, finding her way back to soccer after a year off from school, carrying one year of JUCO eligibility as a sophomore along with Stewart, Sessions and Reid.
“Since I haven’t played for so long, I’ve really missed it and I thought it would be a good opportunity,” Repsis said. “It was more of an ‘I get to play soccer again,’ but it was definitely a good thing that there are returning girls that I’ve played with before.”
The past few months have been a challenge for their new coach as he moves his young family to town from South Dakota, where he’s worked with coaching staffs at programs like Dakota Wesleyan College. But the talent level was apparently so easy to see here in Sheridan that he didn’t need to be all the way here yet to lock up five quality girls.
“Sheridan has a good reputation, the high school program,” he said. “Coach (Tom) Racette has done a good job with maintaining a consistent program, that’s how you get a good reputation.
“A lot of these girls here, we talked over the phone, and I did a lot of calling other coaches that they’ve played for,” he continued. “A couple of the other girls have played at other colleges, they’ve played other sports, so I talked to their coaches about their athletic ability and their work ethic and their attitude.”
The five passed their new coach’s on-field and off-field inquiries, and are ready to don a lighter shade of blue, back in Sheridan.
“I just really missed home and I just wanted to restart,” the Northwest College Lady Trappers transfer Stewart said. “Once I got the opportunity to play, once Stefan reached out to me, I was really excited.
“Collegiate level is very different, that’s for sure. Everything’s much faster paced and more physical. You have to work really hard, but I think that if we can come together like we have before then we should be OK.”
Sessions also knows the demands that come with playing a college sport. In many cases, the time commitment, travel and new independence are more influential in a collegiate athlete’s success than inherent talent level.
Reid said she wanted to play soccer after high school, but things didn’t exactly work out right away.
“I’ve already been going to school at Sheridan College, and after high school I was originally wanting to go play somewhere else, but then I decided to put my academics before sports,” she said. “When they said they were going to get the program, it was just really exciting. I decided I could do both here, academics and sports.”
For the young one in the group, Kelly, she says it came down to playing with girls she was comfortable with.
“I never saw myself playing soccer after high school, but since all my friends were playing, I decided to,” she said. “I’m really close to them, I’m closer to them than the girls in my grade.”
“It will be a lot of fun,” Reid added. “We’re super excited because we didn’t ever think we’d get to play together again.”
“It’s definitely exciting,” Repsis chimed in. “We get to have some fans that we’ve had since high school. Here in Sheridan we’ll have a bunch of Sheridan girls so it’s a great opportunity for the community too I think.”