Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

March 13, 2014

Russell’s Fowler picks Johnson U.

RUSSELL — The celebration hasn’t died down for the Russell girls soccer team.

On Thursday afternoon, the party was for senior co-captain Brooke Fowler. With her parents, Brent and Barb, by her side, she signed a letter of intent to play at Johnson University during a ceremony in front of family and friends in the Russell High School cafeteria.

Her father took a “selfie” of himself and his daughter at the signing table to commemorate the event.

Fowler and Johnson coach Mason McNally had only been in contact through emails and never met in person before Thursday. During the limited recruiting process, she took some advice from those around her to make her decision.

“My friend told about (Johnson) and my coach told me I should play (college) soccer,” Fowler said. “ I also heard they have a great program for intercultural studies.”

McNally heard great things about Fowler through a coach at Kentucky Christian University.

“Josh Miller from KCU sent her our way,” said McNally, who played soccer at Johnson and was a member of two Mid-East Regional Championship teams. “He had prior connections with her and based on what Josh and her coach said about her, she will fit in well and shine in our program.”

Fowler was an integral part of a 18-6-1 Russell team that blanked rival Ashland twice to win district and region titles then shutout a talented South Laurel squad 3-0 in the opening game of the State Tournament to reach the Elite Eight.

“We all clicked really well and that’s why we went so far,” she said. “This is a great group of girls. We all get along and played really well together.”

Russell athletic director Sam Sparks spoke before the ceremony about the hard-working midfielder, saying that it won’t take her new coaches long to realize what a great person will be arriving on campus in the fall.

Russell coach Joe Grizzle echoed those sentiments.

“I couldn’t ask for a better person, on and off the field,” Grizzle said. “She’s our quarterback in the middle. She is very coachable player.”

Johnson University is located 12 miles southeast of Knoxville, Tenn., and is a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association.

“We are very focused on academics and our ministry,” McNally said when asked about the school. “The best thing about our university is the community. It’s a beautiful place.”

Grizzle believes Fowler will make a definite impact on the school and will contribute to her new team right away.

“Anything I ask her to do, she would do for me,” Grizzle said. “I could play her anywhere and she would give 100 percent. I couldn’t praise her any more. I am very fortunate to have the good players that I have had.”

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