Anthony ready to sign

Kirsten Anthony of Central Kitsap High School will attend Southern Utah University on a full-ride scholarship.  - Mike Baldwin/staff photo
Kirsten Anthony of Central Kitsap High School will attend Southern Utah University on a full-ride scholarship.
— image credit: Mike Baldwin/staff photo

Kirsten Anthony had a gut feeling the second she visited Southern Utah University last April.

Call it intuition or confidence, the Central Kitsap High School girls soccer player knew her next destination was Cedar City, where the college is located. Anthony verbally committed to Southern Utah two weeks later and earned a full-ride scholarship to play womens soccer for the Thunderbirds.

“It just felt right to be there,” she said. “You can’t really explain it, just feels like the right place for me.”

The decision boiled down to Southern Utah and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. But once the Las Vegas head soccer coach stepped down and Anthony fell in love with the Utah campus, she came to a conclusion.

The four-year Cougars center midfielder will sign her letter of intent Wednesday at Central Kitsap. Her family and closest friends plan to attend the ceremony. Central Kitsap girls soccer coach Vicky Webb, who has spent 10 seasons with the school, said Anthony is the third student-athlete that she knows from the program to earn a paid athletic scholarship at a Division I school.

The Central Kitsap senior had a breakout sophomore season when she was third on the team with five goals and nine assists. She contacted Southern Utah at the start of her junior year, and the college began scouting in 2009 for its next center midfielder. The Thunderbirds were impressed enough to award Anthony a full scholarship.

“That’s the kind of girl we can be proud of,” said Webb, who coached Anthony for six years dating back to junior high school. “It means a great deal to her, and I’m very proud with all the hard work she’s put in. She deserves every bit of it.”

Anthony is the first in her family to attend a four-year university. She has no family or friends in Utah, but she believes it’s a small hurdle to realizing her dream.

“It’s a place to try something new,” she said. “I want to leave and get away from this a little bit. I’ll miss my family, and I know going in there, not knowing anyone is going to be hard, but I think I’ll thrive in that kind of environment.”

Denise Baxter has coached Anthony on the Central Kitsap girls basketball team for the past three seasons, and said Tuesday after practice that she’s thrilled for her senior guard. She also noted that the most trying part of the year has yet to come.

“The signing part is easy,” she added. “It’s once you get there that you realize the goal. This is the fun part, but the hard part will be when she heads over in June.”

Anthony, who wants to major in engineering, also hopes to contribute on the field early in her freshman year, either off the bench or in the starting lineup for the Thunderbirds. Training camp starts Aug. 1.

For now, the Central Kitsap multi-sport athlete is still enjoying her senior year of high school as she prepares to bid farewell to her hometown and welcome a new stage in her young career.

“I’m only going to be here for a few more months, so I’m just going to enjoy my friends and family, and try to make the most memories with them before I go.”

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