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Gregg picks UTC

2014 NPT PHOTO BY SETH BUTLER
Cocke County High School senior McKenzie Gregg signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer at UT Chattanooga on Monday.
Published: 3:35 PM, 02/11/2014 Last updated: 12:39 AM, 02/12/2014
 

Author: Seth Butler
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

NEWPORTA tough choice fell right into place for Cocke County High School senior McKenzie Gregg.

Gregg, a multi-sport athlete at Cocke County High and an accomplished competitive soccer standout, signed a National Letter of Intent with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga last week. She confirmed her decision with a signing ceremony at CCHS on Monday afternoon.

She chose UTC over the University of Miami and Longwood University.

�I had opportunities to go to Miami and all these other places and I did question my choices of going there, but I just prayed about it and focused on what I should do and asking people different things,� Gregg said on Monday. �As the process went on, I called all the coaches and I kept bringing back UTC and their coaches called me as many times as they could under the rules.

�It just kind of fell into place and with the offer they gave me, I really couldn�t turn it down,� Gregg said.

The decision for Gregg came down to the factors of immediate playing time and the offer made by UTC.

�It was a very tough decision,� Gregg said. �I spent several days crying over what I should do. I just kept talking to my parents and kept praying and finally sealed the deal with UTC because I got a for-sure quote on how much I�d be playing and how much I got offered and stuff.

�I didn�t want to stop playing at all and just wait my freshman year at Miami to play my sophomore year,� Gregg said. �I wanted to go straight in and do the best I can with what God has given me.�

Gregg has drawn the eyes of many through her soccer abilities. She has been part of the Tennessee Olympic Development Program from 2009-2012 and was in the Olympic Development Program regional pool in 2012.

As part of the Knoxville Soccer Academy, she made the Super 20 Semi-Pro team in 2011 and helped lead the Super Y U-18 USL league team to the national championships last year, leading the squad in goals and assists.

Prior to transferring to Cocke County High School, Gregg led Berean Christian to a 2010 district title as the league MVP as a freshman and scored 66 goals for the school in two seasons.

Even with the draw of playing for a major collegiate program like Miami was enticing, Gregg said she knew UTC was a good fit for her based on her relationship with the coaches.

�Last year I went there for an (identification) camp and as soon as it was over, they pulled me aside and they told me they wanted me and I�d fit great,� Gregg said. �They wanted me as a forward to score goals, so I was like,� Great, that�s what I want to do� I have an eye for the goal, let�s do this.
�Just from the beginning, (Chattanooga) was on a silver platter, pretty much,� Gregg said.

The atmosphere created by the team also helped Gregg make her choice easier. At Cocke County High School, Gregg is the leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization and also leads a
daily morning devotional.

�The girls on the team were like a family and usually you don�t see that,� Gregg said. �They told me they go to Bible studies, camps and (service) clubs and all of those things together and usually other teams go and party and stuff instead.

�That�s really why I chose it,� Gregg said. �It�s just a good environment that I need to be in.�
By signing her Letter of Intent, Gregg joins her older sister, Mikayla, as a collegiate soccer player. This fall, Mikayla Gregg will be a junior at Carson-Newman University.

McKenzie Gregg said there was some allure of possibly signing with Carson-Newman to play alongside her sister, which she has done most of her life, but eventually decided to pursue her dream of playing at a Division I school.

�Everyone asked me if I was going to go to Carson-Newman,� Gregg said. �I�ve played with Mikayla all my life and we have a special connection on the field and it would be great, but I always had this dream of going D-I and I just wanted to pursue that and kind of pushed those feelings (of playing alongside her sister) to go D-I.�

Playing at different programs, however, won�t stop the sisters from bonding through the sport.
�It�s helpful to get her side of things, because she can help give me some insight of what people usually don�t have, and we can work out with the summer programs, because she really pushes me,� Gregg said.

Having played soccer since she was four, Gregg says she is blessed to be able to continue to play the sport.

�God�s given me an amazing amount of blessings through soccer and a chance to witness to others,� Gregg said. �Being able to play sports and do something I love and pursue it and keep growing (is great).

�I�ve had obstacles like none other, so it�s helped me grow as a person and given me experiences to help me get through things,� Gregg said.

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