On to College Station
Cinco Ranch's Russell takes next step in illustrious career
Originally Appeared on Vype
Cinco Ranch High girls soccer coach Fredy Sanguinetti knew he wouldn't get star player Ali Russell's services for a full four years.
And though Russell told Sanguinetti during her freshman year three years ago that she would not play her senior season in 2019, instead electing to graduate early and enroll at Texas A&M to get a head start academically and athletically, Sanguinetti didn't think it would come to that.
He thought she'd be gone even before then.
"From day one, I always thought the USA team was going to take her," Sanguinetti said. "I knew she was at Cinco on borrowed time, whether it was to graduate early or the U.S. team was going to pick her up."
In three years at Cinco Ranch, Russell, who also played for the U.S. national team from 2015-2017, was a three-time all-state selection at forward. She set district and school records for goals (120) and assists (51). She led the Cougars to the state tournament twice, each time being named to the all-tournament team.
And yet through it all, Russell hardly wavered in her decision to bypass her senior season.
"The only moment I ever second-guessed myself was when we lost state last year," said Russell, referring to a loss in penalty kicks to Flower Mound Marcus in the state semifinals. "I was like, OK, so if I stay, do you think we could win state? It was a big thing. I wanted to win state so bad, and we were so close so many times. Even my dad, for the first time ever, asked me, 'OK, so are you sure?' And I just had to be strong. I know, in the long run, this would be better for me."
It is the norm, if not the standard, at Texas A&M for women's soccer players to graduate high school early and enroll in the spring to get a head start.
"I'm not nervous for the school part, at alI," Russell said. "I also don't want to go into college having the mindset that I'm going to play. I want to be able to work for my spot. I'm nervous for that soccer aspect of wanting new people to like me, and for the first practice. I don't want to play like trash, because that's the first thing they remember. Once I get through that, I'll be fine."
Read more on Ali here