When Chip Scott was 4 years old, he did two things that forever altered his life.
Scott joined Athens Academy that year. Around the same time, he began playing soccer.
Last Wednesday, Scott, who is now a senior at Athens Academy, signed a scholarship to continue playing soccer at Piedmont College. With both his academic and athletic paths, last week’s signing ceremony was a long time coming.
“It was really cool,” Scott said regarding the celebratory ceremony, which featured family, friends and coaches. “Honestly, I think I'm still processing it a bit. It's crazy because it's been building to that for a long time. It felt good. It felt like a celebration of a lot of work put in by not just me but also my parents, coaches and everybody.”
Scott originally played soccer for fun. As he got older and competed on club teams that also featured older players, Scott saw the post-high school opportunities that might be in play for him.
A journey that began as fun for a 4-year-old morphed as Scott moved into his middle school and early high school years.
“I've been playing soccer, on one level or another, since I was 4,” Scott said. “I think I started really talking about college in seventh grade but it didn't really solidify as a goal until, I would say, freshman year. I was born in 2002 and all but three or four of the people on my club team were a year older, so I knew freshman year that I wanted to play in college and I knew I wasn't going to have a club team for my senior year, so I really started searching for somewhere to play pretty early.”
Though Scott had this goal for several years, last Wednesday marked the moment it all became official.
After spending time researching programs, visiting campuses and honing his skills on the field, Scott was able to take in the moment. Scott said he’s felt a mix of emotions since inking his scholarship documents.
“For the most part, it's been nothing but excitement,” Scott said. “I love the sport, and the fact I get to continue playing at a high level is so exciting to me. There's also a little bit of nerves, just in general, about moving to that next level and definitely a healthy dose of relief, knowing where I'm going, knowing I've got a spot to play and knowing that it really did all end up paying off.”
Piedmont College offered Scott everything he was looking for.
Whether by talking to his older club teammates or visiting campuses himself, Scott decided he would best fit in at a smaller college.
When Piedmont came calling, Scott quickly knew it was the destination best suited for him.
“I've known for a while that I'm a smaller-school kind of guy,” Scott said. “I went and toured a lot of bigger schools and I always enjoyed the feeling of being on a smaller school's campus a lot more. I also knew I wanted to go Division III. I wasn't really looking for a Division II or Division I spot. Piedmont actually was interested in me first, so I went up there and toured and I just loved that feeling of being in the mountains and how their campus is able to be spread out because it's less people on a fairly big space. I love everything about the feel about that campus.”
Scott has not yet decided what he intends to study at Piedmont.
When it comes to his work on the field, however, Scott has clear objectives in mind.
“Obviously, my biggest goal is to just keep improving, keep improving my personal play and every aspect,” Scott said. “I'm not 100 percent sure what to expect in terms of playing time and starting spots and all this. Honestly, I just want to make myself better and contribute to the team anyway I can.”
Athens Academy’s boys soccer team sat at 8-1 entering play this week.
Scott and his teammates are in the throes of a good season, but he took a moment to reflect on his career with the Spartans.
Scott said that his time at Athens Academy prepared him for the future in several ways.
“It's definitely been difficult and, to a degree, it still is difficult,” he said. “I think the school, academically, has done a fantastic job of preparing me not just for future classes. You go to these recruiting camps and the coaches say one of the most important things you can do is construct an email well. I think the school has also done a good job of preparing me to communicate with professors, coaches, anyone that I need to communicate with. ... The school is not going to give me a pass on things because I was at a tournament that weekend. I've had to learn how to balance being a student and an athlete and I think that's really prepared me for the next level.”