by Brian Lamar, Assignment Editor

Many student-athletes’ dream of honing their skills to continue on to the next level don’t come true. Either they aren’t recruited by a college and the opportunity is missed or they are, but money is too tight for families to afford the tuition.

In the case of two Long Beach High School Lady Bearcat seniors this year, those dreams of playing college ball are coming true through hard work and sacrifice on and off the field.

For Lauren Bennett, a defensive powerhouse for Long Beach, she impressed the University of Southern Mississippi in multiple areas. Bennett was recognized not only for her athletic ability but also for her generous spirit and hard work in class. Bennett only received a partial athletic scholarship for soccer, but she was also awarded money for education because of her ACT score. She also received additional scholarships for her community service work in the community and serving as the student-body president of Long Beach High School.

Bennett, who plans to study Biology with a focus on nutrition for athletes believes that her family’s early devotion and sacrifice to her love of soccer helped pave the way to her accomplishments.

“My family is excited for me. They made sure that I had the ability to play and travel for soccer since I was little. It looks like it paid off. I am so grateful for wonderful people in my life who have helped me along the way,” Bennett said.

Teammate Sophia Fimiano, a talented forward for Long Beach also received a scholarship to play soccer at Southwest Community College for her hard work and dedication. Although; unlike Bennett, Fimiano’s full-ride to a higher education completely rested on her abilities on the field.

Fimiano, who has been playing since she was three years old, looks back on her achievement with gratitude mixed with a bit of trepidation.

“I am excited, but nervous at the same time. My family is happy because money is hard and this will help out a lot,” said Fimiano who’s college interests and goals are split between physical therapy or starting her own business.

“My first goal is to get settled in and work hard to form the same bonds with my team at Southwest, that I have made here in Long Beach,” Fimiano said.