Lifelong friends and WC stars Smith, Stockstill sign to play college soccer

Published 8:00 am Friday, November 16, 2018

For 10 years, Layken Stockstill and Laney Smith have been best friends and shared some of life’s best moments. They added one more to the list this week.

The two Warren Central seniors both signed to play college soccer in a ceremony Wednesday in the school’s library. Stockstill is headed to the University of North Georgia, while Smith is going to Holmes Community College.

Although they’re splitting up soon, signing day was a moment to treasure forever.

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“She’s my best friend. I’ve been watching her play since we were little. What she can do is amazing and I’m so happy to see where she goes,” Stockstill said.

Stockstill, a goal keeper, is in her third year as a starter for Warren Central. She allowed 15 goals in 15 games last season and averaged six saves per game. It was while playing with her tournament team in Jackson that North Georgia’s coaches noticed her.

Eventually, Stockstill said she knew the Division II school in Dahlonega, about 65 miles northwest of Atlanta, was the place and the program for her. The Nighthawks won nine of their first 10 games this season before finishing 10-5-1 in the Peach Belt Conference.

“They said that they liked my skill and my attitude toward people, and that I was coachable and don’t take anything too seriously. They think I can fit in there really well. It’s really homey. It’s a really small community,” Stockstill said. “It’s an insane opportunity. The next four years of my life are planned out right now. So mainly it’s just about getting better there and figuring out what I can do afterward.”

Smith is a midfielder and forward for Warren Central, and said she expects to stay in that position at Holmes. She has 16 goals and 12 assists in two-plus high school seasons.

Meridian Community College also heavily recruited Smith, and a few other junior colleges showed some interest, but she said Holmes was her first and favorite option.

“They were the first people to ever show interest in me. I was thinking about a different school and then I really liked the coach there so I decided to go to Holmes,” Smith said. “I can go to Holmes and get better and maybe go on to a four-year after my two years at Holmes.”

Signing day came just two games into the final high school seasons for Smith and Stockstill. They still have 2 ½ months to play together before going their separate ways on the pitch. They were already getting misty-eyed at the thought of it.

“I’m going to miss her,” Smith said. “But it’s cool. I’m glad for her.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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