Stillwater News Press

High School Sports

May 2, 2013

Stillwater senior Chablee Sanders signs with ORU soccer

STILLWATER, Okla. — Ever since Chablee Sanders was little, she’s always had one dream — to play soccer in college.

Even as her interests changed slightly, becoming a track and cross country star for the Lady Pioneers and earning more medals than you can count, that dream never died.

Thursday, her dream officially became a reality as the three-sport senior signed a national letter of intent to play soccer at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa.

“I’m so excited,” Sanders said. “I’ve been wanting to go play soccer at a college level for a really long time. This is a dream come true.”

It may have been a dream years in the making, but it was also one that didn’t necessarily take the typical path.

Sanders didn’t play for the Stillwater High School team her senior year, instead opting to run track this spring for the Lady Pioneers. None of that seemed to matter to ORU coach Ryan Bush, who spotted Sanders on her WSA 95 club team.

“Chablee is an outstanding competitor, top-notch athlete and will easily test out as one of the top athletes in the program right away,” Bush said. “She has a tremendous work ethic, which fits the culture of our program. She’s a fierce defender and a top-class competitor. We are always excited to add players with Chablee’s attitude to the team.”

Bush may have noticed Sanders right away, but Sanders didn’t necessarily notice the ORU coach in the stands. In fact, there were times in which she wondered if she was ever going to get a chance to play soccer in college — let alone a Division I school.

“I’ve always wanted to sign Division I and at one point they told me I was going to be a Division II player,” Sanders said. “Soon they found out that I have the skill to be a Division I player and they offered me a scholarship.

“I didn’t really know they were looking at me. I played club over there (in Tulsa) and they just saw me one day.”

Sanders may have not seen the scholarship offer coming but one person did — her mother, Keysha Sanders.

“She is very grounded and very task oriented when she sets her mind to something,” Keysha Sanders said. “All her life she’s been told, ‘You’re small, you’re small, you’re small.’ It’s not every day that a parent can look at you and say you have a D(ivision) I athlete, but I tell you that I have a female Division I athlete.”

Proving doubters wrong has been Sanders’ mantra since she first kicked a soccer ball. But it wasn’t like she didn’t have a little help along the way.

Whether she was running track, cross country or playing soccer for her club team, there was always a swarm of family members in the stands. From her father, Joe Sanders, to little brother Jakobe Sanders and little sister Julia Sanders, nary a game went by that somebody wasn’t in the stands.

“I’ve never missed a game, track meet or anything else she’s ever attended,” Keysha Sanders said. “For me as a parent to say that, I think that says a lot about her support system and our family’s support system. We’re there to support her. ... It wasn’t always easy, but you’ve got to be there for them. There were days we were spread every direction, but you’ve got to be there.”

And they were there Thursday — parents, grandparents and pretty much anybody who the bubbly senior has ever met showed up to support her.

“It was a great moment,” Chablee Sanders said. “I’m glad to have all my family here. They supported me through everything, so it was nice to have them here.”

Now Sanders is set for a new journey as she not only looks to become a physical therapist after school, but also looks to get some playing time for the Golden Eagles.

Her first opponent on Aug. 17 in Tulsa? None other than Oklahoma State, a team the Sanders family has grown up cheering for. So you better believe the entire Sanders clan will be in tow to Tulsa.

“We’ll be at every game that we can be at — most definitely all the in-state games,” Keysha Sanders said. “It’ll be a change for me. I’m so used to wearing orange and black that my closet is full of those colors. I guess I’ll have to switch it to navy blue and gold now.”

And what of Sanders’ track prowess? Well, the Stillwater standout wouldn’t rule out the possibility of becoming a two-sport athlete at ORU.

“I’d like to run if they give me the opportunity,” Chablee Sanders said. “But right now my main focus is on soccer and doing everything I can to help the soccer team. I’m just really excited for the opportunity to play soccer at a great school like ORU.”


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