By Evan Mohl
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – Four Lady Dawgs signed their national letters of intent on Friday.
Kara Kemp, Nicole Leffingwell, Chelsea Letzer and Cara Lumpkin drew tears, smiles and flashes as they finalized college choices and celebrated unparalleled careers at Copperas Cove.
All four were instrumental in rebuilding downtrodden Lady Dawg programs. Kemp, a middle blocker, helped the volleyball squad reach the playoffs three consecutive years. Before that, Cove hadn't been to the postseason since 1993.
"Kara meant the world to this team, to this program," Lady Dawgs coach Cari Lowery said. "You couldn't ask for a better leader on and off the court."
Leffingwell, Letzer and Lumpkin resurrected the soccer team from oblivion. In a three-year time span, the "Three L's" put the Lady Dawgs on the map again and made soccer matter in Copperas Cove.
The trio became the first girls soccer players to sign a scholarship since 2001 (Katy French; Alabama).
"Their impact on this program is immeasurable," Lady Dawgs coach Hagen Streckel said. "They're like having a mini-coaching staff because of their leadership. They want to succeed so badly."
KARA KEMP, MIDDLE BLOCKER
College: Dallas Baptist University (Division II)
At Cove: Kemp set the school record for blocks in a season with 267. Her block rate was 60 percent. Kemp also registered 181 kills on her way to a first-team all-district selection and a Texas Sportswriter's Associaion all-state honorable mention for Class 5A. She was also academic all state.
Looking ahead: Kemp has a chance to start for the Lady Patriots, who finished 24-18 last year. She also chose the school because it provided a good Christian environment with solid academics.
Quotable: "Kara has a really good chance to make an impact up there. She's only scratched the surface of what she's capable of." – Lady Dawgs coach Cari Lowery.
NICOLE LEFFINGWELL, FORWARD (SOCCER)
College: Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NAIA) in Alva, Okla.
At Cove: Leffingwell has been a silent assassin with 39 goals and 49 assists and as a three-year starter. She also has an all-district selection with another one likely coming.
Looking ahead: Leffingwell will start right away for the Rangers, a team that won just two games a year ago. She could be worth a couple more wins. Off the field, she'll major in health and sports science, a specialty at the school.
Quotable: "This is just unreal. I've been dreaming about this forever and for it to finally happen...it's just unreal." – Leffingwell on her signing
CHELSEA LETZER, MIDFIELDER (SOCCER)
College: Southwestern University (Division III) in Georgetown
At Cove: Letzer compiled 36 goals and 37 assists in her three-year varsity career. She's also earned an all-district nod with another one likely coming.
Looking ahead: Letzer will have a chance to start or make a contribution right away off the bench for the Pirates (5-11-2 last year). However, she'll need to improve her speed to be an effective midfielder at the college level.
Quotable: "I have tons of emotions right now. Excited to get to go to college and play soccer but scared and nervous to do something new and different." – Letzer on going away
CARA LUMPKIN,FORWARD (SOCCER)
College: Texas Wesleyan (NAIA) in Fort Worth.
At Cove: Lumpkin is one of the most prolific scorers in Lady Dawg history. She has 86 goals and 33 assists in her four years.
Looking ahead: Lumpkin will start right away on a Rams squad that went to the national tournament and won the regular season title along with the postseason tournament crown. Wesleyan graduated just three seniors from that team, which reveals Lumpkin's talent. The striker also plans to major in dentistry.
Quotable: "Because we were so successful this year, we were pretty picky about who we recruited. The players had to be very special, and Cara's no exception. She's the total package: coachable, game-aware with the ability to score and defend. She's also got the easiest skill to coach: speed. She'll be one of the fastest girls on our team next season." – Lady Rams coach Josh Gibbs, who came to Lumpkin's signing.
Contact Evan Mohl at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7564.