By Stan Beall
The Star Herald
MacKenzie Dickerson plays soccer, and she plays it well indeed.
She plays the sport so well, that she in fact had been offered a scholarship to play on the Division 1 level at Ole Miss before her junior season at Kosciusko High School even started.
Dickerson committed to this offer to play Rebel soccer in 2014 and will sign her scholarship papers during her senior year at KHS.
Getting to this level didn’t just happen for Dickerson.
She and her family have dedicated untold hours of travel time and practice in an effort to enhance her skills, which appear to have paid off with her selections to upper level Club teams and her recent scholarship offer from The University of Mississippi.
Just practice and playing on Club teams didn’t get her to this point. Dickerson is fast, athletic and aggressive when she competes.
She was a dominant second baseman for the Lady Whippets fastpitch team when she was just an eighth grader.
Her love and dedication to soccer has since pulled her from the diamond, but her skills as a soccer player have been honed to the point of her having nearly 100 goals before her junior year for the Whippets.
Dickerson has been playing soccer for about as long as she’s been able to walk.
“I was probably four of five (years old) when I started playing rec soccer––and boys and girls had to play together,” said Dickerson. “I can remember playing in junior high with boys that were already in high school. They could beat me off the ball then, but I was pretty quick.”
Other than playing for the Whippets, Dickerson also plays for the Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi, a U17 Club team out of Jackson.
They played well enough this summer to make their first ever National Cup Appearance. This was the 11th annual U.S. Club National Tournament and it was held this past July in Waukegan, Ill.
Dickerson’s Club team earned the spot in May when they won the regional in the national event.
After two ties and one win against teams from Chicago, New York and New Jersey, the Mississippi Fire earned a spot in the finals which ended in a loss to FC Copa Real out of New Jersey.
Dickerson also plays for the Mississippi ’95 Girls Olympic Development Program (ODP) team.
This team is comprised of the top 16-17 year old age group from the state.
They were able to defeat Florida 1-0 in July to earn the Karen Flannigan Cup, which is the ODP Region 3 Championship.
This was the first team, either boys or girls in over 40 years of competing in ODP, to ever win the championship.
Region 3 is comprised of ODP teams from the states of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi.
Dickerson also experienced another first this past summer when she made the Mississippi Fuego, the states first women’s semi-pro team.
The Fuego joined the Women’s Premier Soccer League in 2012.
This past summer was the inaugural season for the Mississippi Fuego and the Mississippi Fuego U23 team.
Both teams competed in the newly formed Southeast Division with Knoxville, Pensacola and Georgia.
Dickerson originally made the U23 team, but during training she was moved up to the Fuego Premier team.
After playing so much soccer on so many levels Dickerson still feels that there are certain aspects of her game that she still needs to work on.
“I really want to get my technical more under control,” she added. “That’s just your touches on the ball and tricks you can do with the ball and moves you do around your opponent––you can never stop improving your technical.”
Dickerson has a passion for the game that is obvious to anyone that might take a minute to speak to her.
“I love everything about soccer,” Dickerson proclaimed. “I love the mentality that’s needed to play it––the physicality of it and the shape you have to be in to be able to play it. I love that a game can change in a matter of seconds and you can be right back in it.” The popularity of soccer continues to grow every year and that’s just fine with MacKenzie Dickerson, because eventually her face just might be the face you see when a game is on.
But until then, she will stay focused on being a Whippet and eventually an Ole Miss Rebel.