New Hope High School girls soccer coach Mary Nagy always knew Sarah Hern would be ready to answer the call when she needed leadership.
“Sarah was always our leader,” Nagy said. “The players voted her as a captain in 10th grade. The leadership continued from there. The other players looked up to her. Her maturity was great both on and off the field. She is leaving behind a legacy, and has done a great job of preparing the next group of leaders.”
Hern and former teammate Demi Menotti signed scholarship offers with Itawamba Community College on Wednesday morning in Columbus.
“We are excited about both of these players,” ICC coach Mike Sullivan said. “Both are going to be instant help for us. Sarah is a big girl. She has good size and plays really hard. We are excited to have her.
“Demi is good with the ball. She has not played a lot this year due to injuries and other things, but I think both will be real good additions to our midfield. I am excited to be getting both of them. Both of them will be good for us.”
Menotti, The Dispatch’s 2010-11 Player of the Year, started her senior season with the New Hope High team but left the squad in the middle of the season. Hern played a key role for the Lady Trojans, and helped them advance to the second round of the Class 5A North State playoffs.
“I learned a lot our here, including leadership skills,” Hern said. “Being a three-year captain really meant a lot to me. I feel really close to these girls, and it will be difficult leaving. At the same time, this is exciting, too.”
Midway through the season, Nagy shifted Hern from forward to defender. Nagy said she needed Hern’s size and speed in the back to help solidify a defense looking to improve.
“Sarah always had a great attitude every day at practice and in games,” Nagy said. “She showed character and integrity. She showed what leadership is all about. Itawamba is getting a good player and an even better person.”
Menotti is looking forward to a chance to return to competitive soccer after a solid junior season in which she played a key role in New Hope’s run to the second round of the Class 5A North State playoffs.
“I am excited about this opportunity,” Menotti said. “I know several of the girls on the team. I will also have one of my best friends down there with me. This is a great chance, and I am really looking forward to getting started.”
While Hern and Menotti played integral roles in helping New Hope mature as a program, Hern’s versatility will help her grow at the next level.
“I am excited,” Hern said. “I am glad a lot of people showed up to support me today. I am really looking forward to seeing what college ball has to offer me.”
Hern’s signing was bittersweet for Nagy. While the coach loses a leader, she knows the program is in good hands.
“Sarah trained so many of the younger players,” Nagy said. “She spent a lot of time with them and led by example. Her opportunities past here will be unlimited.”
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.