William Stallworth made history at Cumberland Gap High School when he took a pen and signed to play soccer for a college team April 12. Stallworth is the first male athlete to sign a college soccer scholarship from the Panthers soccer program. On and off the pitch he is a well-respected young man whose teammates enjoy playing with and being around.
His parents are Willie and Lovie Stallworth from Harrogate and he has two sisters, Jasmine Worthy and Alana Stallworth, and one brother, Owen.
William has played soccer since basically he was old enough to kick the ball and his current high school coach Matt Neverstitch has been with him through AYSO, club ball and high school.
Neverstitch had this to say about his program-changing player, “I have been with him for several years now and I have seen him progress through the years to become the player he is now. I have watched his ability and confidence grow over the years and he assumed the role of senior leader this season. He is a great role model for the younger kids to see. It shows them there are other paths besides academics alone; it can be done through soccer. He will be hard to replace and will be missed.”
His father Will said this, “I am a proud dad. I’m proud of his determination and I hope that his signing will give others the hope and dedication to do all they can to reach college soccer.”
“I’m so proud of him for what he has done over the years through an illness that actually motivated him to soar,” said his mother Lovie.
“Stallworth could play any position for the Panthers and the team has been made better by his leadership on the pitch, ” said Lorri Kimbrough, one of his former coaches.
When William spoke of what it meant to him to be signing to play college soccer he said, “It’s pretty much a dream in progress for me. I’m taking it step by step and college is the next step on my ultimate goal of reaching pro soccer. I am glad of my time with the Panthers because these guys are like family to me.”
He added, “I had to battle crohn’s disease — I had to learn to fight through it and this fight has motivated me even more to succeed.”
When asked about his most memorable moment, William said, “I remember playing at West Greene and they had us down 2-0 and we came out and defeated them 4-2. It was great and very memorable.”
Stallworth will now go from being a Cumberland Gap Panther to being a Montreat Cavalier. The NAIA school is located in Asheville, North Carolina, and his new coach Brenton Benware was also on hand to witness the signing and also said a few things about his newest Cavalier, “We learned about him through one of his club coaches and he had what we wanted. He can play the game of soccer and he also is the kind of guy to help us with culture. That’s what we look for in our players. On the pitch during the games, we expect him to help us on our attack — it may be as a forward or he may end up on the wing but his talents will help us with our attack.”
Stallworth signed with family, teammates, coaches from AYSO, club ball, high school coaches, school officials and friends standing behind him in support.
He has huge potential as a soccer player but his mom said it best, “William has a true passion for the sport and God blesses him on a daily basis as a soccer player all the while fighting through his illness.”
Reach Allen Earl at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @pitchadude.