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Sports Sweet Photography

TWO RISING STARS to Watch

Nieva Gaither, 16, Lilburn n  Positions: With her Elite Clubs National League

(ECNL) team she plays attacking midfielder and on her Parkview High School Team she plays attacking midfielder and forward. Gatorade Georgia Girls Soccer Player of the Year for 2017-18, Nieva Gaither, has been playing soccer since she was 4 years old, following in the footsteps of her older brother Dylan, who now plays for the Atlanta United Academy. Winning Gatorade Girls Soccer Player of the Year means she owns the title for best high school female soccer player in the state of Georgia. The award honors outstanding players who also have high academic achievement and character. “I’m most proud of getting Gatorade Player of the Year. Being a sophomore and winning it, I’m very proud of that. It is huge for an underclassman,” Gaither says. She says the hardest part about soccer has been learning about time management, especially because she plays for a club team and her high school soccer team, spending 10-12 hours per week practicing plus playing in games on the weekends. “As a student athlete time management is important. You get home late from practice and then still have to do homework. It is stressful, but worth it,” she says. At only 16, Gaither has also made a verbal commitment to play soccer on scholarship at Furman University for fall 2020, and her big dream would be to win a national championship for her school. When asked if she plans to go pro she said, “Right now I want to just focus on soccer and school. If I get an offer to go pro I may go for it.” n  Advice for younger players: “Be determined and work hard. It is hard at first, but if you are having fun while practicing a lot and improving yourself with every practice, that is all that matters.” 16 Atlanta Parent    March 2019

Holden Tracy, 16, Johns Creek n  Position: Goalkeeper for his Chattahoochee High School team and club team, Alpharetta Ambush. As many young children, Holden Tracy started trying out sports like baseball and soccer. Soccer was the one that stuck in kindergarten and he hasn’t stopped playing since. In second grade, he started playing for his club team, the Alpharetta Ambush, and this is when he found his calling to be a goalkeeper, which he says takes a special skill set. “When you are playing other positions you can switch between them on the field. Being a goalie takes a unique skill set – repetition and being able to communicate with teammates,” he says. In 2018, he was selected as one of the two goalkeepers from across the country in his age group to attend the Super Y National Experience at the USL Phoenix Rising Soccer Club, a national summer soccer program. The program looks at club-level players in their regular season to determine if they qualify for a spot. He says one of his favorite parts about soccer is getting to meet other players from around the country during this program and regular season. “I don’t think I’ve ever not known someone on the field when I was playing. You meet so many amazing people, even some who move out of state, and you get to reconnect with them at tournaments,” he says. In 2018, with his help, Alpharetta Ambush won the Georgia State Cup for club soccer for his age group. “We really worked hard and put everything on the field. This was the best thing I have done personally with the help of my team,” he says. Right now Holden is focusing on academics and figuring out which major to choose in college, but if given the opportunity to play for a Division I college soccer team, he says he would take it. For the time being his goal is to win the state cup again at the end of the school year, and go on to regionals and nationals with the Ambush. n  Advice for younger players: “Work your hardest, but have fun doing it. You don’t want to work yourself into the point of not enjoying it.” atlantaparent.com

Profile for Atlanta Parent

Atlanta Parent March 2019  

In our March issue, read all about the soccer culture in Atlanta, plan the perfect birthday party, get up to speed with STEAM and learn all...

Atlanta Parent March 2019  

In our March issue, read all about the soccer culture in Atlanta, plan the perfect birthday party, get up to speed with STEAM and learn all...