Unselfishness does pay off.
It might’ve not seemed that way during a tough senior season teamwise, but in the end, it revealed a charm, third-time style, for Morgan Springborn.
To shore up a weakness on a young squad, the Muskogee High grad was asked by Roughers soccer coach Curt Denton to play defense rather than forward this season, moving her away from a spot she’d played pretty much her whole soccer career, and well at that.
When it came time for the selection process for All-State, Denton nominated her first for the defensive job she’d done. She didn’t make it.
Then at midfield, another nomination. No go.
Ticket Springborn for an appearance Saturday at the Class 6A All-State Game on her home turf, Creek Nation Field at Indian Bowl.
“I was in shock and yet pretty excited,” she said. “He told me when it got to forward, even though I didn’t play it this year, he told everyone that until I moved to defense, I’d been our top scorer.
“It’s got so much meaning, especially being where I played my whole high school career. It means my teammates, my friends, and most of my family has a five-minute drive to be part of it rather than going to Oklahoma City or Tulsa.”
Springborn will be attending Upper Iowa University on an athletic and academic scholarship next fall. She’s the lone MHS representative on the squad that will play at 6 p.m. Saturday, but another ex-Rougher will don a sideline on Friday.
Robyn Brewster is an assistant coach for the 5A West squad. She coached Heritage Hall to the 5A quarterfinals, where they lost to the eventual state champion Edmond Deer Creek. She played four years at MHS, graduating in 2006 then playing two years at Central Oklahoma. Her first two seasons her teams at MHS made the postseason.
“It’s really important that I’m getting to come back home for this one,” Brewster said. “Growing up there, it’s home and I really felt like the group I was with, especially those playoff years my freshman and sophomore seasons, helped build the foundation for that program. To get this game is a big step for Muskogee.”
Brewster and company will oppose an East team with Tahlequah’s Sam Chaffin, Kalie Champlain and Rachel Brown at 6 p.m. Friday.
Hilldale’s Leah Gragg made a position switch and was the All-Phoenix Offensive Player of the Year, scoring 26 of the 59 Lady Hornets’ goals in getting Hilldale to its first-ever postseason win. She moved from midfield to forward as a senior and the switch obviously made an impact, eventually leading to a spot on the 4A All-State East team that plays at 6 p.m. Thursday.
“It makes me proud I helped us get our program to where it is now and how far we’ve come from,” said Gragg, who will move on to play at Northern-Tonkawa next season. “Getting the most goals in my career this year playing a different position was something I’ll remember, and it may not be my home field but it will be my hometown I’m playing in, so that’s cool.”
For Fort Gibson's Shelby Nichols, getting to this point was anything but a sure thing when she suffered severely torn ankle ligaments in a club game and missed both the 4A semifinal and championship game her junior year, then tried to avoid surgery to allow a natural healing process.
“I had to be very cautious,” she said. “The doctor gave me some exercises to do but I wanted to push so hard to get back yet I had to be patient and follow that and let time play out. The doctor said it was one of the fastest recoveries he’d seen when I got back in time to start this season.”
Nichols, who will play at Southern Nazarene on an academic scholarship, was captain of the defense that was only scored on one time in district play and shut out seven opponents.
“I think it showed me no matter what you can overcome and be better,” Nichols said.
Brooke Bennett, Nichols’ teammate, will see limited time — hopefully. Bennett came down hard on her left (kicking) foot during a dance recital in Tahlequah in the past few days and is wearing a boot on the foot.
“The only way you can be listed as an all-state player for the record is to play in the game and I’m hoping I can,” she said. “Somehow I’m going to try. It may be a step on, step off.”
The midfielder and forward scored 12 goals and had 10 assists. She’ll hang up her cleats after the game, at least from a college standpoint. She plans on attending the University of Arkansas and majoring in mechanical engineering.
Other area players in the 4A game are Wagoner’s Mikayla Taylor and Keys’ Breanna Scott.
All-State soccer at Indian Bowl
4A, 6 p.m. Thursday
5A, 6 p.m. Friday
6A, 6 p.m. Saturday
4A, 8 p.m. Thursday
5A, 8 p.m. Friday
6A, 8 p.m. Saturday