It takes a while for most young athletes to figure out exactly what sport they aspire to play in college.
That was not the case for Covington senior soccer player Cassie McDaniel.
“I tried other sports, like softball and basketball, but I always knew I wanted to do this since I was four,” McDaniel said.
Fourteen years later McDaniel’s goal was achieved when she signed a soccer scholarship with Dyersburg State Community College at First Baptist Church in Covington.
Primarily a defensive midfielder who can play other positions, McDaniel showed her toughness last fall when she played through various injuries.
“You could tell whenever she wasn’t on the field,” said Covington coach Rusty Richardson. “Whenever I had to pull her out there was a difference on the field. She leaves some big shoes to fill for sure.”
Kaleb Blackwell, an assistant for the DSCC team, called her “super physical, super tough and super talented. She always wants to compete.”
DSCC head coach Robert Luttrell coached McDaniel at Covington during her freshman and sophomore years and kept up with her progress when he moved on to DSCC.
“I was always hard on her, but it’s because she has so much ability,” Luttrell said. “She can take it because she’s got thick skin and she is tough … When she gets mean that’s when she plays her best. I liked to poke at her a little bit to make her mean.”
McDaniel was named all-district and all-tournament multiple times throughout her high school career and was the region’s defensive player of the year her junior season. The Lady Chargers advanced to the state tournament during her first two years and, despite being an underclassmen, she contributed.
The last two seasons she was a captain and clearly a team leader.
McDaniel is the third Tipton County player to sign with DSCC over the past 10 days.
“I’ve known Coach Luttrell since I was young,” McDaniel said when asked why she chose DSCC. “I’ve grown up with him basically and he’s been a great influence on my life.
“The team loves her, she’s a great teammate, great person and great teammate,” Luttrell said. “She could have gone a lot of places but I’m glad she stayed local. I think it’s a good move for her. She’s going to have a chance to compete almost instantly.”