Athlete of the Week: Gillian Watkins, West Central High School
Leaders step up, grab hold of a situation and excel under pressure. Leaders never shy away from a problem; they find a solution.
Gillian Watkins proved she is a true leader.
Watkins, a senior at West Central High School in Hartford, SD, stepped up in arguably the biggest spot in her soccer playing career.
In this year's Class A Girls Soccer State Championship bout, Watkins approached the penalty spot with a chance to take home the title. After a 0-0 scoreline in regulation and overtime, West Central and Tea headed to penalty kicks to decide 2016's Class A champion.
West Central grabbed a 2-1 advantage heading to the fourth round of PKs. If Watkins could finish her look, she could claim her second girls soccer state title at West Central.
I think you know how this story ends (Watkins kick at 5:38 in video).
Watkins sent it right, glanced the bottom of the crossbar and claimed the state title for West Central.
You'd expect nothing less from a true senior leader.
But her leadership extends well beyond the results on the field. Even heading into this season, Watkins was already establishing herself as a mentor and role model.
"She's helped get things organized during the summer," said coach Greg Anderson. "We've tried to get some out-of-season workouts taken care of and she's stepped up and helped with that. She's also done a good job with some of the other younger kids on the team and helping them develop for on-the-field [action]."
Previous West Central leadership, especially during her switch to a defensive position freshman year, have always motivated Watkins to perform at a high levelvand help the next wave of Trojan athletes.
What started as a way for a young child to burn off energy turned into a successful, meaningful high school career.
"There was a mix of emotions after winning the title," Watkins said. "There was a lot of happiness, but I was also sad soccer was done. But I was really glad it ended how it did. It ended on a really good note."
After her senior year at West Central, Watkins plans to go through basic training in Texas for the Air National Guard.
"I've wanted to since I was little," Watkins said. "I've wanted to because my mom and grandpa were always in it. I was always around it when I was little."
Beyond basic training and the Air National Guard, Watkins would like to attend college, as well as find ways to stay involved with soccer, not just playing but also coaching.
When she's not spending time with soccer, Watkins enjoys hanging out with friends and watching Netflix.
Congrats to Gillian Watkins, this week's Athlete of the Week.