By Thomas Sellers Jr.
There is not a moment Tina and Sam Carson can recall their daughter Ivy being involved with either art or soccer.
Seeing her passion for both the arts and playing on the pitch, Tina and Sam invested and encouraged her. All the time, hard work and dedication in soccer gave Ivy a chance to sign a national letter of intent to Belhaven University Dec. 16 in the Brighton High School Gymnasium Lobby. The reason the Brighton senior made her choice of Belhaven is because of the high academic standards and liberal art background. “She not only has an opportunity to play soccer — the game she loves,” Tina said. “She can pursue her other passion which is art. She can do just about any kind of art she wants. But she’s interested in graphic design.
”Ivy’s first interest in life was soccer. She started playing at the age of 3. In her youth Ivy gave tennis, basketball and track a chance. “It’s just a passion of hers,” Sam noted. “If she’s not playing it, she wants to be playing it. When she plays, she plays as hard as she can. Always been that way.”
Before Belhaven Blazers Head Coach Kimberly Harrell becomes Carson’s college coach, her club coach Stephen Shearer and Brighton Lady Cardinals Head Coach Kelsi Williams reflected on her on-the-field journey to the NCAA Division III level.
“Playerwise she is an all around great player,” Williams said. “She commands the midfield. She’s going to be a great attacking player for any team.
”Shearer is the director and coach of the Chickasaw Football Club based out of Arlington. Carson joined his program when she was in the eighth grade. “She has grown a lot and she has a great understanding of how the game is played,” he said. “The game is played on the field. So there’s no timeouts. It’s not like football where you huddle up and call plays. Technically she has nice, soft touches. “One of her best skills is she has soft diagonal passes to her teammates that get through the line,” Shearer added. “She will be an attacking mid. It depends on what the coach wants her to do. In soccer there are three lines and she can play any of them.”
Williams noted Carson and her parents put in the work to get Ivy to the next level. “She and her parents did a majority of the work,” she noted. “She has a great work ethic. They recorded all of her games and she reached out to multiple colleges. They went on multiple visits every other week. She really put herself out there and got her name known to give herself this opportunity.
”Williams said the Lady Cardinal Soccer Program will add measures to record games and get players more exposure. Ivy noted the key factor to reaching the college level is having the personal drive.
“I remember when I was a freshman and I saw Haley sign I was like, ‘I am going to do that when I am senior,’” she said. “I’m here today. I hope they see me and make it a goal after seeing me reach it.”
Another person Ivy hopes to motivate to sign a college scholarship for soccer in the future is her younger brother Nolan. Only a freshman at Brighton, Nolan plays basketball and was the varsity kicker for football.
“He will be signing one day,” Ivy said. “He plays a lot of sports. He plays basketball and he’s the varsity kicker for football. He made the soccer team too. If he keeps up with it, he will be doing this one day as well.”
Because of soccer, Ivy has developed many life skills to be a role model for her younger brother and teammates.
“The game has made her more competitive,” Tina noted. “Brought her a great soccer family, friends you can’t replace. It has brought us a bond, an opportunity to get to know those parents to develop lifelong friends. “It has made her strong,” she added. “It has made her very conscientious of her health and taking care of her body. She takes care of what she puts in so she can put it out for soccer.”
Sam said he is confident his daughter will succeed in college because of the lessons she’s learned on the pitch.
“I feel it has made her more of a leader,” he said. “Most kids when they are younger are trying to figure out where they are going to go. She has her direction because she has to make direction on the field.”
Ivy said playing on the field has also helped her artistic ability because she can visualize something and work to see it come to fruition.
“I love soccer so I just kept doing it,” Ivy said. “I played other sports like basketball and cross country, I just kept coming back to it. I just loved it more than anything else.
“And art is relaxing,” she added. “It’s very calming. It’s extremely relaxing. The satisfaction whenever you finish a painting is awesome.”
The picture Ivy has been working on since she was 3 years old of taking soccer to the college level is complete. Now her next masterpiece will start by taking strokes at Belhaven.
“This is my dream spot,” she concluded. “Everything I want is there.”