Jessica Wells said her father knew that she’d play college soccer one day.
The Jackson County midfielder made sure that prediction came true, signing with Piedmont College last week.
“My dad has always said ever since I was 8 he knew this day would come,” Wells said. “It’s something I’ve been doing all my life and couldn’t imagine not doing. So yeah, it’s always been a goal. I’m excited.”
Wells selected Piedmont over Emmanuel and pointed to the educational opportunities offered at the Northeast Georgia school located in Demorest.
“The size of the school was what I was looking for, and the education mostly because at the end of college, I’m there for education, not soccer,” Wells said. “But I’m excited.”
Wells said she’ll major in pre-med.
“About 100 percent of their nursing students get into the medical school that they want,” she said.
The Lady Lions, who play in the Great South Athletic Conference of NCAA Division III, are coming off a 17-3-2 season. Wells said she has no idea what kind of playing time she might see next year.
“I know they’re carrying a big roster, so we have to work for playing time, but then again, everybody has to,” Wells said. “So seniors are going to have to work, freshman (too). There are no decided spots, and it’s going to change up all year.”
Lady Panther coach Joe Ridgway said that Wells is a natural fit for the college game given her physical play and mindset.
“She’s just a soccer player through and through,” Ridgway said. “She’s been raised in it. It’s been in her blood since she was a little girl.”
Wells transferred to Jackson County from East Jackson her junior year. Ridgway points to the value Wells has brought to the Lady Panthers, who are 8-4 this year and fighting for a playoff spot out of Region 8-AAA.
“Ever since she arrived, she’s stepped in and gotten along great with all the other players,” Ridgway said. “She’s been an addition when it comes to her physical play. She’s strong and a strong presence out there. And she’s very skilled, so we were just blessed to have her on the team.”
Wells’ anchoring of the Lady Panther midfield has been a large part of the team’s success.
“She’s always been able to solidify our midfield and be that presence and that ball-winner and distributor that we need,” Ridway said.
Wells can also play other positions, which she’s been called on to do, because of her skill set.
“She’s always been very gracious and never complains,” Ridgway said. “Very coachable.”
Wells now has three regular season games left in her high school career, but the team hopes to make a run in the state playoffs. Jackson County went to the Elite Eight in 2012 and the Sweet 16 in 2013.
“I know we want to get into the playoffs, and make it as far as we can,” Wells said. “And maybe go beyond and get to the Final Four.”