CAMDEN — Saylor Jewell dreamed of playing college soccer at the Division I level as a young girl.
The Preble Shawnee senior made her dream turn into a reality when she officially signed to play at the University of North Alabama, located in Florence, Alabama, beginning next fall.
Jewell, the Arrows all-time goal scoring leader, said an email to the UNA coach led to an invitation to a workout and then another and the rest is history.
She verbally committed to the Lions during her junior year, who will compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
The ASUN includes a blend of private and public institutions in the region: Florida Gulf Coast University (Fort Myers, Fla.), Jacksonville University (Jacksonville, Fla.), Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, Ga.), Lipscomb University (Nashville, Tenn.), New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, N.J.), University of North Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.), University of South Carolina Upstate (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Stetson University (Lake City, Fla.).
“I’m real excited. I’m kind of nervous too. But I’m real excited for the opportunity to play Division I. That was my dream,” she said. “I was really glad I was able to push through and make that happen.”
Preble Shawnee coach Jeff Stiver, who just completed his first season with the Arrows, said Jewell is the kind of player every coach would love to have on their team.
“She’s a phenomenal competitor. She’s an excellent practice player. Excellent student and great person. She’s as much a competitor on that field as anybody. She wants to score. She wants to win. She wants to compete. She’s a phenomenal player and I think she’ll do wonderful,” Stiver said. “She’s every coach’s dream. I can’t say enough about her.”
Kevin Schaeffer, who coached Jewell for three seasons, said she will be a threat at the college level.
“Easily the most prolific goal scorer we’ve had. Set the school record for goals. Every team needs one of those forwards that says ‘I’m going to score. This is my team and I’m going to score goals’ and she did that,” he said. “She’s definitely a good player and I think she’ll be fine at the next level. I think she’d be a threat anywhere she plays.”
Jewell, who plans on majoring in business with a minor in criminal justice, helped guide the Arrows to the program’s first-ever sectional championship as a junior. The program won nearly 50 games in her four years.
“Those experiences were really cool. I remember when we won sectionals that was like a feeling you’ve never had before,” she said.
Jewell is part of an 11-player class which features players from around the world.
“This is the largest class that we have had since I’ve been here and I think all 11 players can come in add something right away to help our team,” UNA coach Chris Walker said in a press release. “Our move to Division I was very appealing and helped with the recruiting process. Our schedule for 2018 was also very exciting for them.”
Walker said the additions not only address specific needs but improve the team as a whole.
“The group as a whole will add a lot of athleticism, strengthen every position and bring in some experience with the international signees,” Walker said. “Having lost Beatriz Fernandes and Kristen Sinden, who were four-year starters, we set out to strengthen the midfield and we did that. We also added some strong outside-backs and defenders.”
Jewell continues a stretch of Shawnee players moving on and playing at the college level.
“It’s a prideful thing. I think they are proud of the program,” Schaeffer said of his former players.
Jewell said she appreciates the community and school for helping her reach dream.
“I’m just thankful for everything this community and this school has offered me,” she said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH
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