The journey continues: Lake Tahoe CC’s Carrington, Martin sign with NAIA programs
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Tianna Carrington and Keely Martin took a similar path on the pitch and in the classroom — and it was only fitting that they took the next step in their soccer careers together. The lone international players on last year’s Lake Tahoe Community College women’s soccer team committed to play at four-year universities Monday in a ceremony at LTCC.
Carrington and Martin both came from abroad to play college soccer in the United States, and both transferred to play on the Coyotes’ inaugural team after spending a season at Lassen Community College in Susanville, Calif. And on Monday, the friends and roommates each signed with NAIA schools in the Midwest.
“We didn’t necessarily know if there was going to be another team at Lassen and we didn’t want to take the risk,” Martin said. “Coming to a new program is a risk in itself, but it certainly paid off and we’re both happy we made the choice to come to Tahoe.”
Carrington signed with Robert Morris University in Chicago, an NAIA program that competes in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The London, England native chose the school based on location and because it offers web design, her preferred program of study.
“It’s in the city and it’s somewhere new again. I can do my course, so I know I’ll be graduating in the end,” Carrington said. “I wanted a school that had my course and a great environment around — they both fit.”
On the pitch, Carrington will likely play striker for the Eagles — and aims to score 30 goals next season after leading the Coyotes with 13 in 2014. Outside of soccer, her plan is further add to a professional portfolio started at LTCC en route to a career in computers — she designed the school’s website and currently runs its Instagram account.
“It’s been a journey, but the journey’s not done,” Carrington said. “I don’t have any regrets so far — I’m glad I came out to Susanville and had my experience there, I came to Tahoe and had a great experience here. Now I’m moving onto Robert Morris.
“It’s amazing — I never thought I would get this far.”
Martin inked with Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, an NAIA club that plays in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. She came to America from Adelaide, Australia two years ago, and said she was ecstatic when finally putting pen to paper and committing to a four-year school.
“Going to a four-year was always my goal to strive for,” Martin said. “I think I’ve chosen the right school that fits with me both academically and athletically.
“It’s been great — it’s been a long and tiresome road that started last November.”
During the recruiting process Martin contacted numerous coaches, and felt a strong a connection with few as she did with Yellowjackets head coach Ozzie White. It’s only a coincidence that her new head coach, who attended Monday’s ceremony, also happens to call Australia home.
“That’s part of the process where I can help her,” White said. “I’ve been in those shoes and I am in those shoes — I left my country to come to another country, and I can help her through some of that.”
Martin scored nine goals and had five assists while starring in the midfield for the Coyotes last season, and White said she will play a similar role at Graceland. He expects Martin to see a lot of the ball while playing as a “schemer” and filling the team’s playmaker role.
“She’s very good at passing the ball, so our job will be to put her somewhere in the team where we can give her lots of possession,” White said. “I want her to be in a good starting position to kick start our attack from intelligently using the ball.”
At Graceland, Martin plans to study biology before pursuing a career as a veterinarian. Her new school also offers a pre-veterinarian program.
“It has my course academically, and what (White) was hoping to strive for athletically was what I was hoping to strive for,” Martin said. “All the connections made one big one.”
Carrington and Martin played key roles on Lake Tahoe’s inaugural team that went 10-5-6 last season. Under head coach Christian DeLeon, the Vikings finished second in the Golden Valley Conference and qualified for the CCCAA NorCal Regional playoffs — and each of the Coyotes moving on agreed it was a memorable campaign.
“The (support) from the faculty and community has just been immeasurable — it’s just been amazing,” Martin said. “The success was very unexpected — although the players hoped, I don’t think they could have imagined the success that we had on the field.”
“It has been great,” Carrington added. “I’m honored to be a Coyote and I always will rep the Coyotes.”
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