When Dawson County High School senior soccer player Devon Coates tore her ACL during playoffs of her sophomore year, many people thought that was the end of her soccer career.
"That was a pretty bad tear and most kids would've said ‘I'm not going to come back. It's going to take a lot of hard work.' But Devon, she went all the way through. She came all the way back," said Head Coach Jed Lacey on March 15 when Coates signed to play collegiate level soccer for Georgia Southwestern University.
"I thought maybe this was it, but it wasn't and you came back and you are one of the best players around," said Coates' dad, Steve.
Athletic Director Grady Turner called Coates a good representative for DCHS before Coates signed the paperwork to play for the Hurricanes next year.
The four-year starter under Lacey told him during her freshman year that it was her dream to play college soccer. Lacey praised her efforts to achieve that dream, including overcoming such a serious injury.
"We are like a family," Lacey said. "We go to LMU for five days in the mountains training. Devon stepped up as a tremendous captain. She helped pull this team together."
Coates' friends and families watched her sign and then celebrated the next step in her soccer journey with her.
Coates has played since she was 6 years old and tried softball briefly, but soccer is where her heart is.
"I never thought I would make it this far, especially with the ACL and meniscus. It was hard," Coates said. "To be here today is awesome. I am blessed to be here today."
Coates visited a lot of schools, according to her mom Stephanie.
"She narrowed it down," she said. "It's been an all-around effort to get her where she is."
Coates said she chose GSW because it is right between her family here and her family in Florida and she loved the campus.
She has visited the school many times and has already become friends with some of her future teammates.
Her plans include studying biology, attending medical school and possibly becoming a family physician.