Phil Phillips, Cass head soccer coach, said the soccer star is a four-year starter with his program and was named offensive or co-offensive player of the year three years in a row.
He said he does not hesitate to use the talented player in any position she is needed.
“She is a very coachable player and will do whatever is asked of her to help her team,” Phillips said. “She has been willing to play any position on the field for us. She has played striker, midfield and now is helping us on defense.”
Hedden also has played the past four years with Southern Soccer Academy, based in Powder Springs, which plays its games primarily in Georgia but regularly competes in tournaments in locales across the United States.
Hedden said she is joining the Lady Trojans, who play in the Sun Belt Conference, because she feels they are a perfect fit for her skills and playing there will give her a chance to play against some of the best soccer players in the country.
“I have never wanted to go to a huge school, but I also didn’t want to go to a teeny, tiny school,” she said. “This is the perfect size and it’s a D-I, which I love.”
Among Troy’s opponents last year were Auburn, Georgia State, UAB, Kennesaw State, South Alabama and Stetson.
She said she became interested in the college after being approached by a Troy coach last year after participating at a camp.
“I just happened to have a camp at my club,” she said. “The coach showed an interest in me. That’s when I looked into it and found I wanted to visit. After I visited, I was like, ‘All right, I have to go here. I love it.’”
Hedden said she has been a soccer player almost all her life, developing her taste for the sport at a young age.
“I have played since I was about 6 years old,” she said. “When you’re a kid, you get involved in athletics by playing outside and that sort of thing. I have played ever since then and soccer was a sport that I liked the most.”
She said she started playing in recreation soccer leagues.
“Now I play with a travel ball club, Southern Soccer Academy, which is based out of Powder Springs. We play all around. We’ve done tournaments in New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, everywhere. But mostly we play our season games around the Atlanta area.”
She is a four-year starter at Cass.
“I play midfield and a little bit of forward,” she said. “With my travel team, I play center defense and some midfield.”
She said her family is pleased with her selection since they will be able to attend some of her games.
“I had thought about going even further,” she said. “So my mom was like, ‘Four hours is OK.’ She is kind of happy with that.”
The Cass soccer star said she has always enjoyed her sport and wants to keep playing as long as she can.
“It’s kind of an escape from everything,” she said. “You go to school and you’re stressed out and all that stuff. Soccer is just a way to release all that.”
Soccer will help pay for her education and she is pleased with that development.
“I would love come out with a job,” she said. “I want to major in criminal justice. I just wanted to be able to play when I’m in school because soccer is a huge part of my life and I don’t want to let it go.”
At Cass, she has been leaving her mark.
She was the team’s leading assist leader for goals in 2013, Phillips noted. The past three years she scored 28 goals and had 18 assists for goals.
“She is very athletic and is a competitor,” the Cass coach said. “I think she can contribute to Troy’s program next year and make an impact at the next level for years to come.”
She has been named to the all-county soccer team in Bartow County.
She presently plays with the Southern Soccer’s Chelsea 96 G Elite, where she is a defensive and attacking midfield player as well as a center defensive back.
She has played in the Super-20 League, the Lady Chiefs 96 Premier and the Super-Y League.
She also has played for the Cobb Futbol Club, Cherokee Impact, Bartow Shooters-Cartersville and Clash Travel-Cartersville and North Georgia Blazers.
Ryan Robertson, her coach at Southern Soccer, said Hedden has the skill set that will help her play at the next level.
“Mallary is a very technical, very talented player that can fit into multiple styles and systems of play at the next level,” Robertson said. “Her work ethic is second to none. That only makes her technical ability better at higher levels. So for her to go to Troy to play Division I is huge. She’s definitely capable of that. I think she’ll excel.”