Dyersburg State Community College soccer coach Robert Luttrell, who used to coach the Covington High girls’ team and is still a CHS teacher, had been asking Hannah Kirby to join the CHS soccer team since she was a freshman three years ago.
“As soon as she walked through the door I was trying to get her,” Luttrell said. “She kept saying she didn’t think she could do it.”
Last fall Luttrell asked Kirby for a fourth time to play and he finally convinced her.
“I was like, ‘You know what? I’m actually going to do it,'” Kirby said. “I wanted to try something new. It’s my last year and I wanted to make it a good one.”
Kirby, who had never played organized soccer before, had a strong senior season as an attacking midfielder and forward, earning all-district tournament honors. She then led Covington’s indoor team in scoring over the winter in a very competitive league in Memphis.
Those productive months compelled Lutrell to offer her a scholarship to DSCC, which she signed Tuesday morning in front of family, friends and teammates in the Covington High library.
“No,” Kirby said when asked if earning a soccer scholarship was on her mind when she joined the team last August. “I see everybody else on the field and I see they’re really good and they’ve played since middle school. I was really just doing it to have fun and have something to do. I did not expect that at all.”
Covington High coach Rusty Richardson is not at all surprised that Kirby will be playing at the next level.
“When she has a mission to go after the ball, she’s always aggressive,” Richardson said. “She’s going to fight for the ball. She does not lose possession easily. If anybody was going to take the ball away from her they were going to have to fight her for it.”
It doesn’t take a detective to figure out where Kirby’s aggressive nature comes from. Her father, J.R. Kirby, is the Covington High football coach and is well-known for having aggressive teams and his fiery nature.
“It definitely comes from dad being a football coach,” Kirby said with a laugh. “He’s always telling me to be aggressive in everything I do. He’s always telling me to be tough, mentally tough. I get a lot of my athletic ability from him because he was an athlete.”
Said Luttrell: “She’s just an athlete and attitude-wise she’s great. She probably had the most development from beginning to end of any player on the team. I’m really thrilled to have her and she can play anywhere. She could probably play linebacker.”
Kirby will join teammates Cassie McDaniel and Macauley Jones, who signed with DSCC earlier this year.
“I regret not playing those three years,” Kirby said. “I probably would have been better than I am now. I feel very blessed to have been a part of something like this and getting a chance to play two more years with my other seniors.”