• Brighton senior Mackenzie Smith signs a soccer scholarship with the Dyersburg State Community College. Also pictured are, from left, front, Derrick Smith, father; Amber Smith, mother; Presley Smith, sister; back, Kelsi Williams, Brighton coach; and Robert Luttrell, DSCC coach. Photo by Jeff Ireland

Before another opportunity presented itself Brighton senior Mackenzie Smith was considering pursuing a career as an aviator.

She’s been taking flying lessons since she was 15 and was planning on following that path in college before a strong senior year on the pitch changed her mind.

Smith cracked her femur last August during the first game of the 2020 season and missed about half of the year. She recovered by September, had a strong season and played in an all-star game that Dyersburg State Community College coach Robert Lutrell attended.

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One thing led to another, Luttrell offered her a scholarship and she signed it Tuesday afternoon.

“Her speed sets her apart from everybody,” said Luttrell, who also coached her on the Jackson Wolves, a club team. “She’s exceptional, has a very good attitude and is a team-first player. I’m thrilled to get her. She’s one of the best players in this county without a doubt.”

She’s a lefty who plays primarily wing and forward but can play any position on the field. Brighton coach Kelsi Williams was an assistant coach during Smith’s freshman season when she played left back.

“Mackenzie is very versatile and goes anywhere you need her to play,” Williams said. “I think it (her signing) says we’re definitely progressing as a program. All of our senior girls could have played somewhere but they just chose a different path.”

Smith said she may pursue flying at some point down the road, but right now she’s focused on her soccer career.

“Dyersburg State was close to home and with a coach I’ve had since I was young who has taken me under his wing and made me a better soccer player, so i just jumped on the opportunity,” Smith said.

She said coming back from a broken leg was tough.

“I learned that I can get through just about anything,” Smith said. “I know I can push through anything no matter what challenges I face.”