Lakeside senior Grant Guthrie
(center, seated) signed to play soccer for the University of South Carolina. Sitting with Guthrie are his parents, Bari Kubicek and Tommy Guthrie. Standing are Guthrie's past and present soccer coaches.
Photo by Mike Howell
A great soccer player is equally adept with his head and his feet.
Lakeside High School senior Grant Guthrie certainly fits the bill.
When Guthrie was a multi-sport athlete at Riverside Middle School, he used his head - he gave up football, basketball and baseball to specialize in soccer.
As a result, Guthrie's feet are headed down a path to Columbia, S.C., where he will attend the University of South Carolina on a soccer scholarship.
"South Carolina had been my top choice since I was old enough to know what college was," Guthrie said last week after signing a letter of intent to play for the Gamecocks.
Several Division I programs sought Guthrie's services, but he made a verbal commitment to South Carolina last July, and Friday's signing ceremony at Lakeside merely sealed the deal.
"There were other schools I really liked, but as long as South Carolina had interest, that's absolutely where I wanted to go," he said.
Thanks to soccer, Guthrie always has had someplace to go. As a three-year starter at Lakeside, the midfielder has scored 34 goals to help lead the Panthers to the Class AAAA state semifinals the past three years.
Guthrie also has taken tours of France and Spain with the Georgia State Select Olympic Development team, and regular trips to Atlanta were required to play for the Stone Mountain Storm club team.
The soccer odyssey almost was derailed before it started.
"At first soccer wasn't my strongest sport," Guthrie said. "After my eighth-grade year at Riverside, my dad and I made the decision I would just play football. I had actually quit soccer."
Fate had other plans. Coach Glenn Atkinson needed extra players for his Columbia County Patriots squad, so he asked Guthrie to join.
Guthrie has been displaying his talents on the pitch ever since.
"Grant is just a special player. He's strong, he's fast and he's got a lot of skill," Lakeside coach Dave Morgan said. "I've never seen anybody work as hard as he has to get to the point he is right now. I'd say he's one of the top three high school players in the state this year."
The Panthers begin the 2003 season next week, and though Guthrie is looking forward to his senior campaign, he's anxious to step up to the next level.
"I'd love to play professionally, but I'm just looking at the next four years right now," Guthrie said. "Hopefully I'll be able to break into the lineup and play a little bit next year."
South Carolina is a perennial NCAA power, but Guthrie might be able to muscle his way into the lineup sooner rather than later.
"With his determination, I'd be very surprised if he didn't make an impact right away," Morgan said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.