Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
SARDINIA — One of the area’s most versatile soccer players has found a college home.
After careful thought and consideration, Eastern senior Caitlyn Wills signed with Ohio Dominican University this past week … adding another chapter to a storied career.
“Choosing Ohio Dominican was an easy choice. As soon as I stepped foot on the campus, it felt right,” Wills said. “[ODU] Coach [Reilee] DuPratt, along with the rest of the team, was extremely welcoming and kind. ODU provides me with the chance to fulfill my educational and career goals. I’m excited to be a part of a small, close-knit school within a large city.”
Wills is familiar with the close-knit aspect of her choice. She’ll bring a small town attitude to the program with the ability to lift it to new heights.
The time she spent at Eastern was nothing short of magnificent. In the past year alone, she was the Southern Hill Athletic Conference’s Girls Soccer Player of the Year and helped the school’s soccer and basketball programs make district final appearances.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. Her contributions as a Warrior go way beyond anything she ever did with a ball at her feet or in her hands.
“As I reflect back on the past 10 years of my life, I realize how blessed and fortunate I am with the countless people and organizations who have invested their time and effort into me,” Wills said. “I owe a huge thank you to all of my coaches, teammates, and especially my parents, who have stood by my side.”
When the Warriors’ soccer program tabbed Dan Silvis as its new coach before Wills’ sophomore year, there was much to be determined. But Silvis quickly identified Wills as the group’s leader.
The decision jump started a run at school history and, for that, Wills is forever grateful.
“Coach Silvis trusted me to lead the team as captain and prepare our team to make school history,” Wills said. “And the talented 18 girls I spent everyday with who brought so much joy to each practice, elevated my game, and quickly became family … Most of all, my parents, Courtney and Casey, who ingrained into me the importance of hard work and accountability. Without each of them and their consistent support, I would not have this opportunity.”
And the Warriors wouldn’t be where they’re at without Wills.
She’s built a career that exemplifies how to lead, how to set a standard and how to build a culture.
“I hope I’ve left a mark on the program and the individuals who are a part of it,” Wills said. “The importance of hardwork, commitment, and family are instilled in each and every Eastern athlete. I hope I displayed each of those traits and served as a model for the upcoming players. Leaving Eastern, I want to be remembered not just for my crazy facial expressions, but as a fearless athlete who would do whatever it takes for the team’s success no matter the circumstance. I want to encourage all the defensive players, who may not get the glory to keep working because their time will come.”
Wills now joins a program that finished 11-7-2 overall in 2019 alongside an 8-4-1 mark in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. She’ll have an instant impact on a defense that surrendered less than a goal per match.
“As a young athlete, it was always my goal to play collegiate soccer and I’m ecstatic that I have the opportunity to further my athletic career,” Wills said. “I’m most excited to fulfill that goal of mine and surround myself with like-minded individuals who share the same passion for soccer as I do.”