By Brandon Speck
Katelyn Watson’s road to Mississippi State has taken a couple turns. New Albany is glad that it didn’t bypass Highway 15.
The Lady Bulldogs’ soccer signee will always be a New Albany Lady Bulldog first. Her 18 goals and four assists this season were a big reason New Albany soccer is finding new heights. Watson is the 2013-14 Journal Player of the Year.
“We’ve improved a lot,” especially with (Coach Caryl) Vogel being our coach,” Watson said “He’s helped tremendously.”
Tupelo forward Charde Hannah and Mooreville midfielder Lakyn Cryder were also considered for the award.
Watson transferred from Northwest Rankin to Brandon as a freshman, She helped Brandon to a championship as a sophomore before a family job moved them to New Albany.
As a junior, she helped the school to its first division title, last season a second straight title and trip to the second round of the 4A playoffs, another first.
North Mississippi soccer is sometimes regarded as being behind the rest of the state, without a great track record of success against the DeSoto, Jackson and Coast-area schools. Some of that is starting to even out. Watson has seen both sides.
She says that has a lot to do with the wider array of select teams in the larger areas.
“The level of play is just completely different,” Watson said. “But I feel like this team has improved a lot and North Mississippi soccer is taking a step forward. I think in a couple of years, it will be just as competitive.”
In those couple of years, Watson will be two years into her next challenge, at Mississippi State.
From a Bulldog family, she committed twice, once her 10th-grade season, the second time after a coaching change.
She already knows several members of the team – but it won’t take the aggressive Watson long to be comfortable with or without familiar faces. After the MSU coaching change, she was the one chasing Mississippi State.
“I was worried about losing my scholarship,” she said. “So I emailed them and they came to showcases and offered me another scholarship. I really wanted to go there.”