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Moving on to the next level
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Lyndi Dodd and Kimberly Warden have spent their lives on the soccer field, often playing on the same team and dominating the competition.
Dodd and Warden started with travel ball, then moved to Warren County High School where they were part of three regional appearances, two District 6-AAA championships and a visit to substate.
After exhausting their eligibility as Lady Pioneers, the duo was faced with a decision on where they wanted to continue their careers. As they have since they were young girls running around at Pistole Park, Dodd and Warden stuck together.
The pair of senior star players signed Tuesday to attend college at Tennessee Temple University where they will join the Lady Crusader soccer team.
Family, friends and teammates were on hand as Dodd and Warden signed scholarship papers at Warren County High School auditorium.
Lady Crusader coach Emmanuel Awotula made the trip to Warren County to watch his future players sign, while Lady Pioneer coach Todd Willmore got a final opportunity to sing the praises of Dodd and Warden.
Willmore spoke glowingly about both his senior players, who have helped the program earn 43 wins over the last three seasons and establish the Lady Pioneers as one of the top programs in the state.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity these girls have to continue their education and play a sport they love,” said Willmore. “Over the last four years, I’ve seen them grow. Kimba has been unbelievably special - she’s more like a daughter than a player. Lyndi is as well. I’m excited for her opportunity and I know she’ll prosper with it.”
Like Willmore, coach Awotula didn’t take long to figure out how special the pair of Lady Pioneers were on and off the field. The Tennessee Temple head coach, who will begin his second year with the program when Warden and Dodd enroll, believes he is getting two players who have the ability to make an instant impact.
“When I first came to watch these two ladies, I fell in love with them,” said Awotula. “After I saw them play against Soddy Daisy, I told them they could be starting right now for our team.
“I believe Lyndi and Kimberly will help us get to the next level and hopefully bring home a banner in the next four years.”
Dodd has been a four-year starter at keeper for the Lady Pioneers and has earned All-District 6-AAA recognition for the past three seasons. As a senior, Dodd had three shutouts in district play and allowed only eight goals in eight district games.
Warden was also a all-district honoree three straight seasons, including winning the defensive player of the year award as a senior.
Dodd and Warden have made several visits to Tennessee Temple to see the campus and meet with the coaching staff. The campus in Chattanooga, along with coach Awotula, made it an easy decision for Dodd and Warden.
“I really enjoyed the campus and the Christian atmosphere,” said Warden. “It’s a great place and coach Awotula is a sweetheart.”
Dodd agreed with Warden, who will be her roommate at Temple, about the campus and coach.
“It is a nice campus and I liked the students,” said Dodd. “When I met coach Awotula, I loved him.”
Dodd and Warden will add to the Warren County presence in Chattanooga next year. Bree Smith is currently attending Tennessee Temple on a basketball scholarship after starring on the court for the Lady Pioneers from 2009-12.