Four Coal Ridge soccer stars off to college |

Four Coal Ridge soccer stars off to college

Jeff Caspersen Post IndependentClockwise from top, Coal Ridge's Tori Verdieck, Kourtney Mitchell, Audrey Asplund and Sam Wilson will all play college soccer during the upcoming school year.

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado – Back in her pee wee soccer days, Kourtney Mitchell admitted that her involvement in the sport was more about “running around in circles and kicking it” than anything else.

Much has changed since.

The games of Mitchell and fellow Coal Ridge High School graduates Sam Wilson, Audrey Asplund and Tori Verdieck – each of whom have shared space on the pitch with each other since they were little and just happy to be playing – have evolved in a big way.

And the fruits of their maturation on the soccer pitch have been bountiful.

Most recently, the Titan quartet did plenty to boost Coal Ridge’s soccer profile, leading the program to three straight playoff appearances and back-to-back league titles in 2009 and 2010.

Though those high school accomplishments have settled into the rear view, they’re not finished yet. All four will soon have new soccer homes.

Mitchell and Verdieck will play soccer at McPherson College in McPherson, Kan., while Wilson is bound for McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., and Asplund is headed to Wayne State College in Wayne, Neb.

Verdieck, who’s not only one of the top goalkeepers on the Western Slope but is also one the area’s best post players in basketball, will attempt soccer-hoops double duty at McPherson.

Playing two sports in college can’t be easy, but Verdieck doesn’t seem the least bit fazed.

“It’ll probably be tough,” she said, “but I’ll do my best.”

As will her teammates. All four Coal Ridge alums have come miles since those early days of aimlessly booting the ball around.

“Now it’s become so much more,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know. You create so many more bonds, because you’re with a team. More than anything else, it’s the fact that you get to be competitive and aggressive, along with the family part.”

New bonds with future teammates no doubt await the college-bound Coal Ridgers as they venture out into the post-high school world. No matter what awaits, they’ll always have those bonds forged as Titans.

“I think that we’re the closest team,” Wilson said. “I think that’s the most important thing. That’s the thing I’ll remember the most, being really close.”

“One of our goals was one team, one family,” Verdieck added. “We put that together, like at practice and at games. The JV girls would come to the varsity games and the varsity girls would try to stay for JV games, if we could.”

That showing of leadership is why Coal Ridge girls soccer coach Brian Blair believes success awaits Mitchell, Wilson, Asplund and Verdieck.

“I think these were some of the best leaders in the entire school,” he lauded. “It was a blessing to have them all on the same team.

“It’s something I always think is really important. You don’t always know if you’re going to win or lose or have a successful year, but you can guarantee you’ll have a successful season as a team by being there for each other from the very beginning.”

Blair will certainly miss his college-bound players. They, after all, helped him build a successful program.

“There are a lot of great memories and a lot of really good moments on the field,” Blair said, “from those players and the rest of our senior class.”

And he doesn’t doubt, not for a second, that promising soccer are on tap for each and every one of them.

“Oh my gosh, they’re going to do really well,” he said. “I know, even this summer, they’ve all been working hard to make sure they’re in the best shape and to have their skills sharpened going into next year.

“Hopefully, that’s the type of work ethic it takes to be good.”

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