published Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Three from LFO sign with Tennessee Temple

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    Emmanuel Awotula, new head women's soccer coach and track coach at Tennessee Temple University.
    Ron Bush

Tennessee Temple University coach Emmanuel Awotula followed his two-sport signing visit to Heritage High School last Friday with a similar trip Tuesday to another Catoosa County school, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe.

This time he got three recruits: Lamar Harper as a track sprinter and midfielders Kalina Hyde and Mary Casey for his women's soccer team.

"It's important for us to build with local kids, and these are three others from the area who have the ability and are willing to help us," Awotula said.

Harper ran the first legs for the Warriors' 4x100-meter and 4x400 relay teams that qualified for the sectional meet, and he qualified in the 100 as well.

"He is very versatile with his speed, running the 100 all the way up to the 400," LFO boys' track coach Houston White. "And he won our captain's award for this season for his leadership. He has very good character and should be a big help to Temple's program."

Harper said he also talked with the University of the Cumberlands but liked the fact that TTU "is close to home so I can still be around my family, and [Awotula] seems like a really great guy. I know some others going there. We have a good freshman class coming in."

The soccer Lady Warriors reached the Georgia Class AAA sweet 16 and wound up 18-2, and coach Jonathan Schneider said Hyde and Casey were big reasons as two of the team's three captains.

"Their leadership was paramount to our success," Schneider said. "Kalina was a wing mid and a vital part of our offense. She had at least six goals and eight or 10 assists, and she excelled at taking defenders on. Her foot skills are very good. Mary is more of a defensive mid and held down the middle of the field. She was one of the key reasons we had 15 shutouts this year, and she also pushed up offensively.

"She and Kalina both had to be all over the field, playing offense and defense. We're really going to miss them, but they're going to add so much to the Tennessee Temple program."

Awotula has been familiar with both girls for years in watching and refereeing area club games, and he praised the 5-foot-9 Hyde's "physical style of play" and "knowledge of the game." About Casey he said, "She keeps it simple and doesn't get panicked. She passes the ball well out of the back, and she's not afraid to dribble out.

"These girls are coming from a winning program, and that's always a big help," he added.

All three new signees said they were attracted to TTU's Christian emphasis, among other things. Hyde, who also considered Covenant, said 2012 TTU signee Courtney Born from LFO liked her Lady Crusaders experience, "and everybody was very friendly when I went there."

Casey said she had planned to go to Dalton State and not play college soccer, "but at the end of our season I couldn't not play soccer." Hyde's decision to go to Temple influenced her, she acknowledged, and the chance to "be part of building something."

Contact Ron Bush at rbush@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6291.

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