Lexi Vaughn's soccer career was supposed to take her to St. Paul, Minn.
In the Bobcat senior's eyes, she was already headed to St. Catherine's University. And it wasn't until she made an unexpected visit to Iowa Central Community College a few weeks ago that forced her future into an alternate route.
Vaughn fell in love with the Tritons' campus in Fort Dodge, was really impressed with the admissions department and loved the feeling she got when she toured the facilities.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
Marshalltown’s Lexi Vaughn signs her letter of intent Monday to play soccer at Iowa Central Community College. Also in attendance were her parents Darin and Allison Vaughn (seated), MHS coach Allie Osmundson, standing at left, and Iowa Central coach Christiane Lessa.
"I loved the feeling when I was there, and it just seemed right to me," said Vaughn, who signed her National Letter of Intent with Iowa Central on Monday. "The campus is beautiful and the admissions department is really nice. I actually gave my commitment to the coach without even thinking about it when I was there for my visit."
The coach is Christiane Lessa, and she is in her second year with the Tritons' program.
"She will bring a great student-athlete attitude to the program, she is very committed and hungry to work hard," Lessa said of Vaughn. "She will bring to our team a lot of skills and field vision as she can create great plays. We are very excited to be signing and adding her to our program's success."
The Tritons have been successful. They are currently ranked 15th in the country at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) level, and Lessa feels like the program is closing in on a national championship-caliber squad.
Vaughn wasn't familiar with Iowa Central at all before her visit. Her mom's friend's daughter - BCLUW's Sarah McCoy - is a softball player there and told the Vaughn family about the school.
That led to the visit, a commitment and Monday's eventual signing.
"I just wanted to go somewhere small," said Vaughn, who also considered Central College. "I think Iowa Central is a place where I can grow as a player and then move on to a four-year school in two years. I hope playing there makes me a better soccer player."
The Bobcat senior said she expects to play either forward or center midfielder for the Tritons. Marshalltown soccer coach Allie Osmundson points out that Vaughn's versatility is one of her senior's best strengths.
"She can play a lot of spots and could be used in several different ways," Osmundson said. "She can play forward but also is fast enough to play outside midfield and in the middle of the field.
"She's a coachable kid and has improved a lot in the past few years. She'll work hard and want to get better, too."
Vaughn could help the Tritons get to that next level. She led the Bobcats with 16 points and tied fellow MHS senior Morgan Gardalen with six goals while delivering four assists in 2013. She started all 18 games for MHS, as well.
Both Vaughn and Gardalen, who recently became a future member of the Central College soccer team, have been a part of a transformation within the program that has seen the Bobcats go from 3-15 during their sophomore year to 10-8 last season.
Vaughn expects to be even better this year as the bulk of the roster returns and with plenty of experience inside their shin guards.
"We used to be one of the youngest teams in the entire state, but we'll have a big senior class this year," Vaughn said. "I hope we can build off a winning record last year. We are getting better every day and the team has good chemistry."
Having Osmundson as her head coach in Marshalltown has made playing in college possible, according to Vaughn. Osmundson herself played Division I soccer at Missouri State and Vaughn took a liking to her the very first day they met when Vaughn was in the seventh grade.
"I was really inspired to play soccer when I first met her back in junior high," Vaughn said. "I thought she was the coolest person ever. She is an amazing person, and I am really lucky to have her as our coach."
Vaughn said she plans to major in athletic training at Iowa Central. She will receive a $500 scholarship from the department as soon as she steps on campus.
Lessa was not surprised at all that Vaughn committed to Iowa Central after just one visit. The school has really come a long ways, according to the second-year coach.
"Iowa Central is a great school but not that many know about it," she said. "It's big and very comfortable, which makes students fall in love right away when they visit."