CULLOWHEE - When Sheridan Caudle attended her freshman orientation at Western Carolina University in July, she was just an ordinary student.
But after talking with head soccer coach Chad Miller, she was asked to attend the Catamounts’ summer camp with the hopes of walking onto the team.
Caudle, a captain on Forbush’s dominating squad that advanced to the 2A West Region championship game last season, impressed Miller and the Catamount coaching staff and earned a walk-on spot.
“I had been emailing the coach at Western since November. Then at freshman orientation, we set up a meeting to talk. He told me the best way to see me play would be to go to their camp at the end of July. He liked what he saw and asked me if I wanted to come play,” Caudle explained.
“I never could decide whether or not I wanted to play college soccer [during high school]. But after losing to South Iredell last season, it made me see that I didn’t want it to end that way,” she added.
A week later, Caudle moved into her dorm in Cullowhee and began preseason training with the Catamounts.
“It’s an amazing experience that I know I couldn’t have done without my friends, family and [Forbush head coach] James Kenan - I definitely couldn’t have done it without him,” she said. “Knowing that I come from a small town, being able to play at the Division I level is inspiring.
“My biggest inspiration was one of my best friends - Austin Macemore. He was definitely my biggest inspiration to play college soccer. I know he’s proud of me.”
Caudle suited up and saw action in her first game in a Catamount uniform in an exhibition game against High Point in August.
“I played in the exhibition game against High Point for about 25 minutes. The pace of the game was a lot quicker. It’s just getting out there and playing; it wasn’t that different from what I’ve been doing my whole life,” she said.
But sitting behind four starting juniors on defense, playing opportunities appear to be scarce for Caudle in her first season at Western. But she said she hopes to work hard this year and fight for a starting spot as a sophomore.
“I don’t expect to play much my first year because I have to fight for position against four starting juniors who have played together the past few years. But I do expect to work hard so next year I can start a few games.”
Caudle was named the Mountain Valley Conference and Region 10 Player of the Year last season, while guiding the Lady Falcons to a 25-1 mark. She also garnered all-region and all-state recognition.
During her four-year career in East Bend, Forbush posted a 91-10-5 record, capturing three conference titles and a state runner-up finish in 2010 in the process.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.