Lakeside High senior Brianna McLeod will head to Starkville, Miss., this fall to follow her dream of playing soccer on the collegiate level.
The 17-year-old signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play at Mississippi State University, a Division 1-A team.
"It was definitely worth it -- all my years of training," she said. "I'm just really excited."
For the past two years, the center back has been a team captain. McLeod played on the junior varsity team as a freshman and advanced to the varsity squad her sophomore year.
In addition, McLeod has played with the Augusta Arsenal club team since she was a young girl.
As a result, McLeod said, she's learned how to adapt to playing with a different group of girls each year.
"I just hope I can prove to everybody what I can do," she said.
As a captain, McLeod helped the Panthers to a 14-2 record this season. She is one of the team's nine seniors graduating in May.
Lakeside coach Nick Edmond said McLeod's work ethic and athleticism will help prepare her for playing soccer at the next level.
"She's got to get used to playing D-1 soccer," he said. "It's a big jump, but if anyone can do it, she can."
Playing soccer isn't the only concern McLeod has when she begins college in the fall.
She also hopes to balance her athletics and academics. Her future coach at Mississippi State shares that same sentiment, she said.
McLeod said she plans to study biology with the goal of becoming a dermatologist in the future.
"I think it'll be hard," she said. "I'll just have to stay focused."
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