West Lauderdale senior Lanie Crawford signs with MCC

Drew Kerekes, The Meridian Star, Miss.
·2 min read

Apr. 17—Lanie Crawford spent countless hours playing soccer from when she was little all the way through high school.

Her mother, Jennifer Crawford, admitted she would have been a bit disappointed if it didn't earn her daughter a chance to play for a college team. Good news for Mom, it did: Lanie Crawford signed with Meridian Community College Friday to continue her soccer career.

"We've been traveling around between here, Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas... we were supposed to go to Nevada, but COVID happened. I would be very upset if she had just stopped," Jennifer Crawford said with a chuckle.

For Lanie Crawford, who graduates from West Lauderdale next month, the opportunity means a lot, especially since she'll be reunited with Mike Smith, the head coach of the MCC women's soccer team who coached Lanie Crawford in the past.

"It means a lot because I've been playing since I was 4, and it's especially meaningful to play for a coach who I've known since I was 10 years old," Lanie Crawford said. "Everyone probably knows Coach Mike either from playing (youth) soccer for him or from being around. He's honestly like a second dad to me and always has been and always will be. He never lets me give up and never lets me leave practice without a smile on my face."

It's also a chance to play close to home, Lanie Crawford added.

"I can stay home for two more years at least," Lanie Crawford said. "I guess I'm just a home body. I love my small town, honestly."

Lanie Crawford is one of several girls from within the Lauderdale County School District to sign with MCC this year, and it's a group for which Smith has expressed his excitement — and it's an excitement Lanie Crawford shares with her future coach.

"A lot of them I used to play with on my travel team with AFC (Alliance Futbol Club), and a lot of them were with Coach Mike, so it's basically getting my whole team back together, so I know we'll be really strong," Lanie Crawford said.