Oct. 14, 2010
OXFORD, Miss. - For freshman goalkeeper Sarah Story picking to play the sport of soccer was easy but her path to where she would play college soccer was a little different.
Story, who hails from Hoover, Ala., started to play sports when she was young because her dad, Gordon, was an athlete and she was always around sports. She started with softball and then moved to soccer because she liked kicking the ball.
"I started playing keeper when I was 11 or 12," Story said. "It just came natural to me because I had played softball and using my hands in that sport."
Story said she knew she wanted to play soccer in college since she was little and has always wanted to be a professional athlete so she knew playing in college was the next step.
She originally committed to play at Western Carolina but when the program had a coaching change, she committed to Ole Miss under former head coach Steve Holeman. When Holeman left in April, Story again found herself concerned about who her coach would be.
"I was really worried and upset with the coaching change," Story said. "My dad told me to pray on it and that everything would work out and it has."
Story said she was very excited to hear about the new coaching staff at Ole Miss (head coach Matt Mott, assistant coach Becky Fletcher and assistant coach/goalkeeper coach Rob Thompson) since she had been coached by all three during her time playing in the Olympic Development Program (ODP).
Both Mott and Thompson served as Story's goalkeeper coach in ODP while Fletcher served as Story's head coach. Story said having the chance to work with Thompson in college has taught her so much.
"He's taught me how to be strong both mentally and physically and he has helped push me through things I never thought were possible," she said. "It's been tough and this year has been emotional but he's been behind me 100 percent."
Thompson said Story has great potential as a goalkeeper but it will take continued hard work to reach it.
"The potential is there for Sarah to be a top-class collegiate goalkeeper but she still has a lot to work on," Thompson said. "But if she continues to work hard to improve her game she can have a very good career at Ole Miss."
This season, Story has played in 12 games and made 11 starts. She has recorded three shutouts and set a program record for saves in a game with 17 in a double overtime tie against No. 18 Georgia. She stopped her first career penalty kick at Alabama and with her 59 saves in her short career, Story is already eighth on Ole Miss' career saves list.
"My freshman season is passing by very quickly but I think I was given a very good opportunity (the ability to earn the starting spot) and took advantage of it," she said. "Hopefully having a willing spirit at practice and continued hard work and I'll be able to keep the spot."
Story credits her mentality as a strength to her game. She also puts God first and foremost in her life and with soccer and said all her talents come from Him.
Mott said Story has really worked hard this season. He said she didn't come into preseason camp as fit as she should have but she has worked hard to get her fitness level up and deserves credit.
"Coach Thompson has worked closely with Sarah to get her where she is playing at now," Mott said. "She's playing at a very high level and the sky is the limit for Sarah. She is playing very mature as a freshman."
Looking ahead in her career, Story said she doesn't know where this path will take her but she is putting all her faith in God.
"I don't know what's in store but I have faith in God that it will all work out with His purpose," she said. "I don't have any specific awards in mind that I have my mind set on winning. When I made the 17 saves in a game that was just a blessing."
Story is majoring in exercise science and wants to be a physical therapist. She also wants to continue to pursue her dream of playing professionally and on the U.S. National Team.