At first she didn't know how far her soccer career could take her, but now, as she prepares to graduate from Bridgewater-Raritan High School, senior Caroline Survill has signed with Old Dominion University, in Virginia, to play on the women's soccer team.
"My love for the sport grew, and I knew I would want to play at the next level, the college level, if I could," she said. "I think everyone starts out playing soccer, and, for me, it stuck."
Survill signed to an athletic scholarship through a National Letter of Intent with the university on the official signing day Wednesday.
Survill said her family and a few friends held an informal signing and small ceremony at their home to celebrate the occasion.
"It's really amazing to think about this," said Survill, who plays defense in soccer. "Pretty much every girl on my team has committed somewhere and it's inspiring to see how everyone has pulled together."
"I wouldn't have gotten to where I am without my teammates, and I think they can say the same about me," she added.
Survill began her soccer career with the Vipers in the Bridgewater Recreation League, and joined the Bridgewater Soccer Association in fourth grade. When she was 14, she joined the Orange Cruch/NJ Wildcats, with coach Mike Poller, and continued with him in club soccer as part of the Match Fit Academy organization.
The team was most recently the U18/U19 champion at the Atlanta Final 4 college showcase.
Most of the members of the team have been signed to play soccer in college.
"I feel so close to the team I have now and there will always be that special bond," Survill said. "That won't change next year, but it will be an adjustment."
Survill is also a member of the high school girls soccer team, serving as varsity co-captain this year and playing center defense. During her senior year, she was selected to the First Team All-Conference and the 2011 NJ All Star Team.
In addition, Survill, in her senior year, received the NJGSCA Sectional Recognition Award, and was one of the top 20 North II Region players in New Jersey. And she shared the Team MVP award with goalie Casey Murphy this year.
Survill is expecting to make a run for the starting position as a defensive back on her college team next year.
Getting recruited, Survill said, is a process, and students looking to play college sports need to put their names out there, email coaches and stay in contact with others.
"You give your schedules and tournaments, and hopefully some of the recruiters will show up, and you can try to impress whoever is there for the day," she said. "Over the span of the past three years, I contacted 30 colleges."
Aside from the sports, Survill said, program and location drew her to Old Dominion.
"The nursing program drew me there," she said, adding that she intends to study nursing. "And the location is good at Virginia Beach, you can't beat that."
"Plus the coaches are really friendly, as is the team," she added. "The balance of education, soccer and social life seems like a good fit for me."
Survill said she has worked hard to get where she is, and is looking forward to the next phase of her soccer career and education.
"For any athletes looking for advice, I would say follow your heart and your dreams," she said. "You have to put yourself out there because you never know who might want to have you at their school and you never know how far you can get."