Joanna Medlin signs

Among those on hand to watch Ringgold's Joanna Medlin sign with Truett-McConnell University were Coach Lucas Levesque of YMCA Rome Arsenal, TMU head coach David McDowell and Coach John-Eric Bolger of the NSA Belles.

Joanna Medlin has developed a reputation as a player for her ability to see a couple of moves ahead on the soccer pitch, but that type of vision isn't exclusive to just her on-the-field play.

The Ringgold junior has also been looking ahead when it comes to the classroom as she plans to graduate early from high school. This past Wednesday, she went ahead and made her college choice official as well, signing her letter of intent to attend and play at Truett-McConnell University, which is quickly becoming a popular destination for student-athletes from the Catoosa and Walker County area.

"I did a lot of dual enrollment and got some credit courses out of the way and I just decided to head out early and pursue soccer," she said at a signing ceremony at RHS. "I'm just really grateful for the opportunity and it's nice to see that all the work I've put into it since I was five years old has finally come to something. I'm really excited to go to Truett."

Medlin has been one of the Lady Tigers' top offensive performers the past three seasons and booted home 11 goals this spring as Ringgold went 9-3 and qualified for the Class AAA state playoffs as a No. 2 seed.

It was the Lady Tigers' first appearance in the state tournament since 2015 and their first home state playoff match since 2013, while the nine wins were a huge turnaround for a program that had managed just one win each in its previous two full seasons (2018 and 2019).

Medlin said she picked TMU for a numbers of reasons, but mainly for the atmosphere surrounding the college and the soccer program.

"I really like the faith-driven aspect of the team," she explained. "There's a sort of family environment with it being a very small campus and I liked that sort of home feeling. The players are all very welcoming and supportive of the new girls on the team. They really take you in."

Lady Bears head coach David McDowell said he was very impressed with Medlin from the get-go.

"Joanna, first and foremost, is an excellent person," he began. "Whenever she came to the campus, who she is just resonated really well with us as a program and as a university. She's an excellent student, but just a person of high character. Truett is a strong Christian school and her faith really embodies what Truett is as a college. As a program, we strive for excellence, which is what she also looks to do, on and off the field.

"As a player, it's a perfect fit because how she plays is very much like the game we play. She's very tidy on the ball and has a lot of creativity and vision. She kind of sees things before she gets the ball and the speed of her play is very quick, and I think with being her a possession-oriented player, she is going to fit very well with what we are. It really is as close to the perfect package as possible, so we're really excited about it."

Ashley Boren coached Medlin in seventh and eighth grade and got to coach her again this past season, her first as the head soccer coach at the high school.

"Back in middle school, I knew she had great skills," Boren said. "Not only was she great on the field, but I also had her in class. She just made 100 after 100 and she's a great student, as well as a great athlete. She's dedicated to what she wants to do. She wants to be a lawyer, which I think is a perfect fit for her.

"I hate that we're losing her a year early, but that just gives her a year to go ahead, go to college, play soccer and fulfill her dreams."

"I hope to be a leader on the field, to be able to grow into one of those roles and just have a community of friends and teammates around me that all support each other," added Medlin, who plans to major in criminal justice.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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