Dawson County High School senior Sophia D’Oliveira fulfilled her dream of playing NCAA Division I basketball on Nov. 20 when she signed commitment papers to play for the Liberty University Lady Flames according to her father Tuck D’Oliveira
“She has been working towards this goal since she was a little girl,” Tuck said. “When you work that hard and for that much time it’s exciting to see.”
For Sophia, finally finding the right school was a relief, but she knows that there is still more to be done if she wants to continue playing at the next level.
Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University joined the Division I Atlantic Sun Conference just last year for the 2018-19 season. Finishing with an overall record of 16-16 with a conference record of 10-6, the Lady Flames made an impressive debut as the conference runners-up.
“I looked at so many schools and Liberty just fit, every time I got on campus it just felt right,” Sophia said. “I’m definitely going to have to keep working, to build up to a spot on a really good roster.”
In the eyes of Lady Tigers’ Head Coach Steve Sweat her ability to make the roster is the least of her concerns as he had nothing but well wishes and kind words for his team’s point guard.
“I don’t know if I have coached a player with the passion to play basketball like Sophia has,” Sweat said. “The best compliment I can give to one of our players is to say, I’m glad she’s on our team.”
A large school, with over 15,000 students on campus, Liberty is one of the largest non-profit schools in the United States as well as one of the largest Christian universities in the world. For some mothers, the size of the school and its distance from home would be a cause for worry, but not D’Oliveira’s mom, Jennifer Watson.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” Watson said. “It is an absolutely beautiful campus and everybody we met, the administrators and the coaching staff have been very enjoyable.”
Currently maintaining a 4.3 GPA at Dawson County, D’Oliveira plans to major in economics with a long-term goal of attending law school.
“I’m really looking forward to getting out there and doing my own thing,” D’Oliveira said.