By DANNY P. SMITH
There hasn't been much that has been able to intimidate Starkville High School girls soccer player Raevonne Shoemaker.
One of Shoemaker's strong points has been her intensity as a goalkeeper for the Lady Yellowjackets.
On Monday, something happened for Shoemaker that even she admits shook her up a little bit.
Shoemaker signed a scholarship with Itawamba Community College at the SHS conference room and the excitement of the experience made her a bit nervous.
"I was shaking walking down the hall," Shoemaker said.
Taking the step to the next level is a big one for Shoemaker and the Lady Jacket appreciates ICC for looking in her direction.
Shoemaker said Mike Sullivan, the coach of the Lady Indians, was the main one to offer a scholarship and she's striving to get one more point on her ACT test so she can attend ICC for free.
Upon taking a visit to the campus in Fulton, she was amazed at the modern look.
"Only two of the buildings are not new so the rest of the campus is new," Shoemaker said. "There's going to be a trainer that's going to be there 24 hours and seven days a week and we have our own workout room."
Shoemaker's signing is also a big one for SHS girls coach Anna Albritton, which she claims as a first.
"Years past, we had Elizabeth Sanford sign, but as far as I'm concerned Rae was my first one," Albritton said. "I'm thrilled for her and her mom and dad too. We're one big happy family. I worked with Rae and was able to coach her when she was in the recreation leagues so I've watched her grow up and progress.
"She's been very solid and I've always said she's one of the best goalkeepers in the state. She's a raw talent and hopefully Michael will take her and develop her a little bit more than we had a chance to because it's hard to train a goalkeeper and get the remainder of the team on track."
The dedication of Shoemaker speaks for itself as she has been the goalkeeper at Starkville since the 7th grade.
It has been a steady progression for Shoemaker from year to year and she valued the encouragement from Albritton during the process.
"The best time is when she looks at me and says great game," Shoemaker said.
Albritton said Shoemaker's play as a junior along with the defense was the reason the Lady Jackets had such a good 2010 season.
"She saved us in a lot of penalty kicks," Albritton said. "When the games came down to that, she handled it well.
"This year for whatever reason, it wasn't her best, but she has stayed in there."
Albritton identified Shoemaker's character early in recreational soccer.
"She was extremely intense back then," Albritton said. "She really didn't care who had the ball at their feet because she'd go out and get them. She had that goalkeeper mentality to go out and not be afraid."
Shoemaker likes being looked at as a leader and the challenges of something like today's playoff match at DeSoto Central brings.
Those are the traits Sullivan wants to bring to ICC and he's had his eye on Shoemaker for some time.
With the absence of soccer at East Mississippi Community College, Sullivan believes the Starkville area is ripe for the picking for soccer talent for his program.
"She's always been someone who has been on our radar and women's goal keepers are not easy to find, especially good ones that you know can help you," Sullivan said. "At the junior college level, we don't have four years with them. You can't bring people in and believe you can train them for a year or two.
"I think she has a lot of the tools already. She's physical and from what I can tell, relatively fearless. With a keeper, sometimes you've got to have some crazy people out there. It's a rough job and a lot of pressure on you. Hopefully she'll be able to handle that."
Sullivan said the Lady Indians lose one of the goalkeepers from last season so he anticipates Shoemaker will have an opportunity to start right away.
Shoemaker will be competing against another goalkeeper who redshirted at ICC last season.
"I'm going to work them hard and expect some big things out of (Shoemaker)," Sullivan said. "I think Raevonne is going to come in and compete very well."