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Libby Renner to play soccer for Eagles

STANFORD — Lincoln County senior Libby Renner had no plans to play soccer in college, anticipating the end of her soccer career would be when she hung up her Lady Patriot uniforms at the end of the 2019 season.

But plans change.

The standout soccer forward/midfielder is going to play college soccer, after all, trading her red, white and blue Lincoln colors for the purple and white of Asbury University.

Wearing an Asbury t-shirt, Renner put pen to paper in front of her family, teammates, coaches and friends as she inked her letter of intent to play soccer at the NAIA school in a special signing ceremony in the LCHS library.

“I really didn’t know if I wanted to play soccer for a while,” Renner said. “But as soon as the high school season was over, I knew it was something that I wanted to continue doing. I missed it a lot.”

Once her decision was made to continue her soccer career, Renner looked at different colleges in search of a school that would allow her to play and pursue a pre-dental degree. Among the colleges she visited were Murray State University, the University of Kentucky and Campbellsville University.

“I visited those other schools, but it was never serious. I loved Asbury,” Renner said. 

Renner’s love of Asbury, which is located in Wilmore, developed before she made her decision to play college ball.

“We went there for soccer camp my sophomore year and that’s when I fell in love with it,” she said. “I had two Select coaches that actually coached at Asbury at the time and they kind of, like, pushed me into trying out and playing with their team some. I’ve actually been in love with it ever since then.”

Renner joins a program that has experienced its fair share of success over the past few years. The Eagles, who play in the River States Conference, have made the conference tourney finals the last three seasons, winning twice. They won the regular season title last year, going 9-10-1 overall, 7-2-1 in conference play. The team has also gone to the national championships three times in the last five years, and head coach Elyse Overton says, “I expect to be back this year, and finish higher than ever before.”

Just as Renner hadn’t pursued a college soccer career initially, Overton hadn’t pursued Renner.

“She reached out to me first, but I got a chance to speak with her and really … I think that’s kind of what made it for me because I got a chance to talk to her about why she wanted to do college ball, why she wanted to dive into it,” said Overton, who was an assistant coach when Renner attended the soccer camp her sophomore season.

“I think she’s going to be a good fit for us. We need somebody that’s quick and ready to learn. One of the things that she definitely was talking to me about was, ‘I like the challenge. I want to grow a little more and learn the game better.’ And I’m excited about that.”

When most high school athletes transition from high school to college level play, they anticipate spending more time on the sidelines than on the field of play. While that could be true for Renner as one of the newest members of the Asbury women’s soccer team, Overton said that may not necessarily be the case.

“I give everybody an incredibly fair chance when they come in. I’m not a coach that does the, ‘These are my 11 starters. This is how we’re going to go.’ Everybody comes in, they fight for the same time, the same positions,” said Overton. “I do see a lot of midfield in Libby and so I’m interested to see how she fits in my midfield. I don’t really know what her playing time looks like. I don’t know what some of my returning players’ times look like. They’re all going to fight for the exact same everything.”

“That little spirit of competition is important. If they come in and they feel like they are entitled to the job, we’re not going to go anywhere. Building a culture is huge and that’s part of my culture is competitiveness. You get what you earn.”

Renner says she is excited for the opportunity Overton affords her athletes but that she has prepared herself to not get the playing time she had in high school right away.

“I know that there is a very big possibility that I might not play as much where I am a freshman, but I’m just going to try to work as hard as I can to try to make a pretty good starting position,” she said.

While it will be a few more months before Renner reports to the Asbury campus to begin her time as an Eagles’ soccer player, she is already anticipating that next step in her life.

“I know that I will work hard in everything that I do and just really push myself to become a better player. Wherever they put me is where I’m going to try to be the best I can be,” she said. “I’m really excited. I’m kind of nervous because it’s just, like, stepping out of my comfort zone. But I’m excited. I’m ready.”

Renner is the daughter of Chad and Leann Renner of Crab Orchard.