Grace Collins, right forward on the Memorial High School Girls Soccer team, has been selected as the 2018 Soccer Player of the Year by the Texas Girls Coaches Association (TGCA) for her outstanding play during the past soccer season.
Collins’ award was the only top recognition issued among all soccer players in three separate levels of high school competition – 4A/5A/6A.
“This is the most prestigious award a young soccer player can receive,” said Sam Tipton, TGCA executive director, who presented the award to Collins in person at Memorial High School on Dec. 12. “The criteria the committee uses to select the winner include season stats, character, academic strength and being a great citizen.”
“What is amazing is that there are 720 girls’ soccer teams in Texas, and there are 32,589 players,” the association executive director noted.
“This is something you will cherish for the rest of your life,” he also said to the Memorial forward.
A lifelong soccer player, Grace will continue playing next year at Texas Christian University, where she has received a soccer scholarship.
“I had several other offers, but TCU was the best fit for my playing style and my academic goals,” said Collins, who plans to major in business or pre-med.
“I am really happy to get this award. Thank you. It was a great run,” she also said. Collins also received the Gatorade Girls Soccer Player of the Year and was the State UIL Tournament MVP.
Team Coach Lindley Amarantos and Assistant Coach Gilberto Velez led Memorial’s girls’ soccer team to win the state championship last April, capping an undefeated season.
“What happened at Memorial last April was unbelievable,” Tipton said. “It had been seven years since any Houston school had made it to the state championship.”
“It is nice to hear from someone outside of SBISD talk about the amazing accomplishment of the MHS [girls’ soccer] team,” SBISD’s Executive Athletic Director Paige Hershey said. “We are so proud of the team and of Grace.”
“We didn’t talk too much about it [being undefeated] as the season went on,” said Amarantos. “We just took it one game at a time. The team was phenomenal, and all of our players were outstanding.”
“Grace is a standout because she has explosive speed and strength,” the coach also said. “She scored at least one goal in every playoff game last spring, including two in the state final from 20 and 33 yards out.”
Memorial High Principal Lisa Weir said both Collins and the campus are soccer champs. “That season was so incredible. It was good for the whole student body to cheer on the team, and it was great for Grace.”