Southern’s Stanton signs with Hurricanes

May. 27, 2014 @ 08:46 PM

Name a sport and Sarah Stanton has probably played it. She has probably been pretty good at it, too.

Stanton has competed in volleyball and softball in addition to running track and swimming. But she couldn’t stay away from soccer, a sport she started playing at age 4.

On Tuesday, the versatile Southern Vance senior signed to play for Louisburg College.

Stanton, who has battled through knee and mouth injuries, is believed to be the third girls soccer player in school history to sign to play at the next level — and the first in at least several years.

“It’s just kind of like, whoa,” said Stanton.

The path Stanton took to inking with Louisburg makes her accomplishment even more whoa-inspiring.

Stanton missed the last half of her senior soccer season after taking a brutal elbow to the face against Bunn. The blow, which knocked her top front teeth in, came as she and a Wildcat defender chased down a 50-50 ball.

“I went one way, she went the same way,” said Stanton. “When I tried to go the other way, she swung her elbow and it just clipped me right in the mouth. After that, it was just so much blood, I don’t really remember the rest.”

Stanton thought the rest of her playing career was done, less than two years after returning to the soccer pitch from the softball diamond.

As a sophomore, Stanton suffered a severe knee injury going for a ball in the outfield of a Southern softball game.

The impairment kept Stanton sidelined from swimming and volleyball and she joined the Raiders’ soccer team last spring as a junior.

“When I was able to get back out here, it just felt good,” Stanton said of playing soccer. “I just decided that this is what I want to do.”

Sarah’s mother, Susan Stanton, was surprised to see her daughter choose soccer when most area student-athletes seem to be drawn to different sports when they reach middle school or high school.

“You never hear about that,” said Susan Stanton. “You really don’t. It’s softball, basketball, football. I would have never thought in a million years she would go play soccer.”

Southern’s coaching staff hopes more girls at Southern start thinking like Sarah.

Raiders head coach Brandi Breinig said Sarah Stanton is one of the most aggressive players on the field and can fit in at multiple positions while showcasing a powerful leg. 

The Raiders haven’t found the win column often in recent years, but Breinig and Southern assistant coach Christie Francis hope Sarah Stanton’s signing inspires returning players and leads to more interest in the sport.

“We’re just really proud,” said Breinig, “and hope that in the future we can build up the program to where we can get more people in this position because we have a lot of girls that are capable.”

“Just because we haven’t won a lot of games doesn’t mean that you can’t get a scholarship,” said Francis, “or go and sign for a college or school you want to play for.”

Sarah Stanton chose a school that advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association championship tournament in 2012. The Hurricanes, led by head coach Andy Stokes, also won Region X tourney and district titles that season.

Stokes expects Sarah Stanton to compete for a spot on the field as part of what he believes to be a strong recruiting class.

“When the girls come in as freshmen, there’s always an acclimation period,” said Stokes. “At our level, because you’re coming in and playing for two years, you have to come in and hit the ground running.”

Sarah Stanton, with her knee brace and mouth guard in tow, is embracing the challenge.

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.