Rise names junior midfielder top recruit in nation

by Caitlin Conner
Staff Writer

             Junior Chioma Ubogagu was recently named one of the top recruits in the area for colleges according to ESPN the Rise magazine. According to Rise, Ubogagu is “arguably the nation’s number one recruit from the class of 2011 and the key cog in Coppell’s run to last season’s Class 5A state title.”

“I think it’s a great honor personally,” Ubogagu said. “I have always wanted to be one of the best players, so being selected as a top recruit in a way lets me know I am somewhat reaching my goal. However, at the end of the day, a ranking is a ranking; it’s just someone’s personal opinion. I know I still have to prove myself every day.”

                Senior Erin Barlow admires Ubogagu’s enthusiasm for soccer.

                “I love how passionate Chi is about soccer,” Barlow said. “It’s contagious on the field.”

                In addition to being named a prime-time player, Ubogagu has recently verbally committed to play at Stanford University.

“This is a great honor for Chi and a great reward for how hard she has worked,” coach Chris Stricker said. “Her efforts at national camp really help make her the top recruit in the nation.  She also has been a game changer on the club and high school field. That has led to many accolades for both, which has really helped her grow into a household name with all of the top colleges nationally.”

                Not only does Ubogagu have a head start on college, she has the convenience of a scholarship to Stanford, which according to Stricker is extremely hard to come by.

                “With only 13 scholarships [to award] most big time soccer schools do not give full rides to their athletes,” Stricker said. “They usually get anywhere from 20 to 60 percent depending upon need.  But with Chioma’s status as one of the top recruits in the nation for her age group, she will most likely receive a full ride scholarship because she is in such demand. Schools will want to lock her in and use her as momentum in that recruiting class to get other top recruits.”

                Seniors Katie Bass, Spayne Avant and Alyssa Diggs have also been named as top players in Rise.  These players, plus Ubogagu’s status as a national recruit reflect extremely well on the CHS soccer program and the girl’s team as a whole.

                “It is exciting for sure to have a player of Chioma’s quality,” Stricker said. “We have had great players in our program before, but none that have gone as far on the U.S. National Team as Chi.” 

                According to Stricker, the closest player Coppell has had to a national recruit before Ubogagu was 2007 graduate Jazmyne Avant. Avant was in the regional and national program as a freshman and sophomore and ended up as a top recruit in the nation. Avant plays soccer at the University of Florida.

                Ubogagu considered attending Stanford, UCLA and North Carolina before eventually choosing Stanford.

                “My college decision wasn’t easy and I took a lot longer than most recruits do,” Ubogagu said. “I chose Stanford because I could see myself there for four years. My family and I also thought a Stanford degree would open up doors in the future.”

                Ubogagu has been attending national camps and training with different age groups in hopes of attending the World Cup for one of these age groups. Ubogagu attended her first national camp when she was in eighth grade. It was an identification camp with around 100 people from all over the United States. She wasn’t called in for another camp until her sophomore year, where she attended a U18 and U20 super camp in the Olympic Training center in Chula Vista. Ubogagu also attended a U20 camp in Carson, California and then a U18 camp at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. From Feb. 26 – March 6 she will be competing in an international tournament in Spain with the U18 team.

                “I’m extremely nervous since it will be my first competition with the U18 national team but I am so blessed and thankful for God giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love for my country,” Ubogagu said.

                With her college decisions behind her, Ubogagu has the next two years to focus on making the most of her last years with the Coppell Cowgirls.