Signed, sealed and delivered since February as a future member of Southeastern Louisiana’s soccer program, Caroline Lee was able to spend her final season at Polk County focusing solely on her on-field play.
But with the Wolverines’ season now complete and graduation looming, Lee admits the impact of her decision is beginning to take hold.
“It’s becoming a lot more real, with signing up for classes and working on preparing for the fall,” said Lee on Wednesday after a ceremony celebrating her college plans in the school library. “It will be here sooner than I know it.”
The senior forward helped lead Polk County to a 15-5 record, scoring a team-high 20 goals and teaming with Emory & Henry-bound Ashley Love to give the Wolverines a potent one-two offensive punch and earn all-conference and all-region honors.
Lee, who plans to pursue a biology or pre-med degree, has begun preparing for the transition to Division I soccer by talking with not only fellow recruits, but Southeastern head coach Blake Hornbuckle and members of the Lady Lions program, which won the Southland Conference Tournament and a berth in the NCAA Tournament this past season.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of girls who will be freshmen as well,” Lee said. “I’ve also been communicating a lot with some of the girls on the team now. We’ve stayed pretty connected.”
That communication should help give Lee an idea of what to expect when she moves to the campus in Hammond, La., located about an hour north of New Orleans.
“She has the athletic ability, obviously, which is a key thing,” said Polk County head coach Lennox Charles. “When you get to college, if you can’t keep up athletically, you’re going to struggle.
“I think she fits in there really well. With the style they play, I can see why they would be interested in her. They play with three forwards and play with a fairly direct style, which really suits what she does.”
With Southeastern’s campus located some 675 miles from Columbus, Charles said making that transition may prove to be the biggest challenge for Lee.
“Sometimes kids have a hard time being that far away from home, some don’t,” Charles said. “She’s also going to have to play in that heat and humidity, which obviously will be an adjustment.
“They’re going to work her harder than she ever has. That’s a big challenge for some of these high school kids when they go to college. They think we work them hard until they get their summer packet from their coach.”
Lee, though, is ready to tackle all of those obstacles.
“It’s bittersweet. It’s hard to think about going so far away, especially when my friends are staying closer,” she said.
“This is something that is going to challenge me big-time. But I’m very excited and I’m glad I chose to continue playing soccer.”