It’s a new view for Meaghan Hames — and for the Young Harris Mountain Lions.
Hames, the Effingham County High School alumna, is playing for the Mountain Lions soccer team as they begin the move to a four-year program.
“I’ve never lived near the mountains, and I wanted to do something different,” said Hames, who was one of the biggest offensive weapons for the Lady Rebels’ team. “I like the small school environment.”
Young Harris, a longtime junior college noted for its baseball program, has an enrollment of around 700 and is nestled near the border with North Carolina. The Mountain Lions went 10-6-1 last year in the GJCAA and has won more eight state junior college titles.
Hames said the school’s jump to a four-year level also drew her attention.
“But we don’t have a conference championship because we’re new this year,” she said.
Hames, an all-Region 2-AAAA choice as a senior at ECHS, visited Young Harris campus last October and was set to take part in a tryout. But inclement weather forced the players indoors. There, Hames engaged in five-on-five drills.
“I kinda liked it,” she said. “It was different. It was kind of better because it made me talk to people a lot more. It was fun. They’re really, really nice here.”
Her offseason has been spent in preparation for the rigors of college soccer. Hames played in a pickup league in South Carolina and also worked with a trainer at Georgia Southern University to improve her speed.
“A lot of the girls here are fast,” she said.
The players were scheduled to undergo a fitness test Thursday and also to begin two-a-day practices. Hames has spent a great deal of time getting ready for the fitness test over the summer.
“They gave us a whole packet of stuff we had to do over the summer,” she said. “Even a lot of the returners aren’t confident (of passing the test) yet, so that made me feel better.”
Where Hames truly shines is in her work ethic and her attention to detail, according to ECHS coach Karl DeMasi.
“She is a hard worker, and she’s a student of the game,” he said. “She was a coach on the field. She’ll excel at the next level, because she wants it badly.”