Woodland senior soccer player Rachel Dodson is well on her way to accomplishing that goal and utilized her prowess on the soccer field to afford her that opportunity.
Her hard work in the classroom and on the field payed off Wednesday at Woodland High when the Lady Wildcats defender signed to attend the prestigious Agnes Scott College.
“I like that it has ties to a lot of places. When people here of Agnes Scott, it’s a very prestigious school,” Dodson said. “I really like that it’s an all-women’s college and it’s in Decatur, so it’s really close to everything.”
Agnes Scott is ranked in the top 100 of liberal arts colleges in the country, according to U.S. News, is ranked 10th nationally in “Best Quality of Life” by the Princeton Review and was featured in the book, “Colleges That Change Lives.”
Dodson plans to major in biology and work with the deaf upon graduation. However, Dodson also plans to continue her soccer career at Agnes Scott as the Scotties are a member of the Great South Athletic Conference, a member of the NCAA Division III.
“Rachel has been a four-year starter for us, someone who has played year-round and worked at her skills. I always thought she had the ability to play [college soccer]. She was pretty solid all year for us, did a lot of things for us defensively,” Woodland head soccer coach Adrian Tramutola said. “She was a key defensive player for us, a very versatile player. We played her at several different positions, not only as a defender, but as an offensive player, as well. She’s a combination of good skills, good athleticism and a smart player.”
Dodson was named to The Daily Tribune News All-County Team as a sophomore and junior, and was an honorable mention selection as a freshman.
The accolades are even more impressive considering Dodson had been a goalkeeper for her first five years of recreation soccer before moving to the field as a freshman at Woodland.
“I’ve definitely improved a lot,” Dodson said. “I’m a field player now, but I used to be a goalie. Before high school, I never played in the field, so I went from barely touching the ball, to being starting left back.”
Because of her versatility, Dodson was able to fill in as Woodland’s goalkeeper for two games.
“We actually put her in goal during the biggest game of the season,” Tramutola said. “She was a goalie in middle school and hadn’t played goalie in five years, but she slapped on a goalie jersey and didn’t do bad.”
As a defender, Dodson was often relied upon to defend the opposing team’s best offensive player.
“She’s very tenacious and she’s not afraid to mix it up with the best of them,” Dodson’s father, Wesley Dodson said. “As a matter of fact, two years ago, [then head coach Kyle Morgan] put her on the best player in Cobb County, Willough Davis from Allatoona. Rachel shut her down. She got nothing off of her and Morgan moved her from left to right just to cover her.”
Dodson believes her role will be expanded even further in college and will likely move from left back to center back at Agnes Scott.
“I’ve already talked to her coach [Rosemary Davis], and once Rachel gets up there, she’s pretty much going to be a starter walking on the field,” Wesley Dodson said.
Although Woodland was unable to reach the playoffs in Dodson’s four years while competing in its highly competitive region, the Lady Wildcats did go 11-6 in 2013, barely missing the playoffs and had plenty of notable victories.
Dodson’s most memorable win was against rival Rome.
“I definitely loved how we went into double overtime my freshman year against Rome,” she said. “We went into overtime, they didn’t score, then we went into double overtime and we won then and they didn’t score. It was really exciting.”
Those around Dodson believe she will be successful at the next level due to her skill level, athleticism and work habits.
“She is a good teammate. She served as captain for a couple of games,” Tramutola said. “She played through some injuries. She had a couple of ankle injuries and showed some character by playing through those when she wasn’t 100 percent.”
“Rachel has had to work hard to get where she’s got,” Wesley Dodson said. “She always had that ‘You’re not going to beat me’ spirit. She has a great work ethic and she’s always been a pleasure to watch every time because she gives 100 percent.”