Chapman transferring to Ole Miss from Florida

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Saying she wanted to be closer to her mother, who has cancer, soccer standout Kristin Chapman left the University of Florida today and will enroll at Ole Miss.

Chapman, who scored 126 goals in four years at Vicksburg High, came to her decision on Tuesday. She said it did not stem from a falling out at Florida. She was set to start for the ranked Lady Gators.

“I love it here,” Chapman said Thursday night while packing for the 10-hour trip to Vicksburg. “But my mom is sick, and I thought it would be the best thing for me to be closer to home.”

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Florida coach Becky Burleigh, whose mother died from breast cancer, released Chapman from the school, so she will be able to play for the Lady Rebels in the fall.

An SEC rule that will take effect next year will force any player in any sport to sit out a year if the player transfers to another SEC school. Now, however, a player can transfer from one SEC school to another, if released by the former coach, with no penalty.

Burleigh was on vacation and unavailable for comment.

Ole Miss was 14-9 in 1999 and made a run through the Southeastern Conference Tournament before losing to Florida, 3-0, in the SEC finals. The Lady Gators lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Hartford after winning the 1998 national championship.

“She certainly has the potential to have a great impact on our program,” said Ole Miss coach Steve Holeman, who has known the Chapmans for about eight years. He coached Kristin on her Olympic Development team when she was 12. “She’s so versatile, she could play almost anywhere.

“She even told me she could play in goal, but I don’t think we’ll need her there,” he added with a chuckle.

Chapman originally picked Florida over Ole Miss and Clemson. She said Holeman will let her earn a spot right away and she could be playing offense again. The Lady Rebels began fall practice on Thursday.

“She is a very dangerous player,” Holeman said. “We’d much rather have her playing for us than against us.”

Chapman, who led the VHS Missy Gators to four state championship games and three titles, said she had even contemplated sitting out a semester without playing soccer.

The Lady Rebels begin play Aug. 19 and 20 in California. A matchup against the Lady Gators is set for Oct. 15 in Oxford.

When Chapman steps onto the Ole Miss campus, it will be the first time she will not be a Gator since before middle school, but “I’m still gonna leave my Gators’ tag on the front of the car,” she said with a laugh.

In one season at Florida, Chapman played in 16 games and attempted four shots from her defensive position. She had her best scoring chance in the SEC title game, a shot that hit the post.

“My teammates are so close. We are like a family,” said Chapman, who told her Florida teammates Tuesday night of her decision. “They were great. My family is really happy. My mom was a little nervous at first because she thought I made this decision too fast. This is the right thing to do.”