Protecting the goal - the goal of a college education
Red Devil soccer goalie sets the bar for CHS girls’ futbol players to reach
Every soccer team starts with a goalie. Even a start-up futbol team has to have someone to guard the net - and it helps if that key player has experience.
The USC-Union Bantams’ first-year women’s soccer team got its goalie last Wednesday. Tania Contreras, a Clinton High senior and commander of the Red Devil JROTC battalion, signed a National Letter of Intent to attend USC-Union and commit to the collegiate soccer program for the next two years.
“This is a phenomenal human being,” CHS Athletics Director Nickie Templeton said of Contreras. “Her determination will take her far in life. I care a lot for her, and she has overcome challenges.”
Contreras was goalie for the boys’ JV soccer team, earning the Hustle Award, before transitioning last spring to the new JV girls’ soccer team. She guards goal this season for the 3-2 JV girls’ team, but will be in college by the time CHS has a full-fledged girls’ varsity soccer team next spring. She will be considered one of the leaders in establishing girls’ soccer at CHS, Templeton said. “She shows that you can excel at what you do, when you put your mind to it.”
“To my teachers and coaches, thank you. To my teammates, we have grown very close. I see you as my family,” Contreras said.
In an interview, Contreras recalled her two “big moments” with CHS soccer - seeing her girls’ team win its first match, and her teammates’ excitement, and when she was on JV boys, going up against a boy one-on-one - “I ended up winning. He lost.”
Opponents to the JV boys’ team never cut her any slack.
“I can assure you, sir, they did not,” she said, when asked if male opponents held back when playing against a girl.
The night she was scouted by USC-Union, Contreras surrendered four first half goals. A coach saw a defensive adjustment, the girls’ JV team did it, and no second half balls got past Contreras. She also received interest from North Greenville College.
Soccer Coach John Michael Hammond said, “At first I was skeptical. She’s not the biggest, not the fastest, but she plays the hardest. She blew me away. On JV boys we can give one award. She won the Hustle Award for her ferociousness and tenacity. She proved everybody wrong.”
Contreras said she is a “science geek” and she wants to major in Information Science in college. “Without ROTC,” she said, “I wouldn’t have gotten here. I would not have tried out for soccer. I would not have had the courage, I was the shy girl.”
Last year, she was the VFW Cadet of the Year.
Contreras said the JV girls’ team is “making progress, learning the basics.”
“They are picking it up quickly,” said Contreras, who carries a 4.7 weighted GPA, “and we’re not backing down.” The team played Woodruff in Wilder Stadium Tuesday night (result too late for this issue); the junior Wolverines are one of two teams this season to have beaten Clinton JV girls’ soccer (the other is 5A Greenwood). The team has defeated Chapman, Mid-Carolina and Newberry (score 6-0).
While she is becoming a Bantam in the University of South Carolina Palmetto College system, Red Devil Tania Contreras could just as easily identify as a Pioneer.
She is the first Clinton High girls‘ soccer player to sign for college.