Staff Photo: John Bohn Alexa Allen is a senior soccer player with Hebron Christian Academy. Allen has signed with Auburn University.
Younger siblings tend to follow their older brothers and sisters into the same sport, a trend that held true in the Allen family.
Alexa Allen took her shot at gymnastics to follow her older sister Nicole.
"I did gymnastics to follow my sister Nicole's footsteps, but that didn't really work out," said Allen, now a senior at Hebron Christian. "I was not really good at gymnastics. It just wasn't my thing. I wasn't able to get up on the bar with arm strength and everything else."
It couldn't have been that terrible, right?
"It was pretty bad," Allen said, laughing at her attempt at gymnastics.
While Nicole found long-term success in gymnastics -- she now competes for Ball State -- Alexa ditched the sport fairly quickly. She picked up soccer as a 9-year-old in her native Rochester, N.Y. instead, developing a sports niche of her own.
Her speed made her a force immediately in soccer. She started as a defender but has grown into a high-scoring striker.
"My dad put me in soccer because he played soccer and ever since, I've been playing soccer," said Allen, who moved to Georgia when she was 11.
Soccer has provided the 5-foot-8 forward with many opportunities, thanks to her success in club ball and with the Georgia Olympic Development Program teams from 2006-2011. Her play earned a scholarship to Auburn, which she chose over Florida State, South Carolina and Alabama at the beginning of her junior year.
For the past few seasons, Hebron has been a major beneficiary of Allen's talents. She contributed immediately as a freshman, earning all-county honors after a 20-goal season.
A nagging knee injury and a hectic ODP schedule kept her from high school soccer as a sophomore.
"It was tough not to have her," Hebron girls coach Ian Driver said. "I teach 10th-grade English, so she was in my class that year as a sophomore. I remember talking to her about it. It's tough on a kid. She's got club coaches talking to her about certain things and club soccer is the ultimate. High school soccer a lot of times comes second in terms of exposure. I wasn't upset with her. But I was obviously disappointed."
The disappointment ended last season.
Allen returned with a 22-goal, all-county season and the Lions made the Sweet 16 of the Class A playoffs. Her offensive prowess was a big factor in the 14-3-1 season.
"She stands out, without question," Driver said. "People know who she is and obviously she's at another level from most who you're going to see. She's one of the top players in the state, a high major Division I kid. We'll play some good teams and some AAAAA teams outside of region, but there seems like some games where she's on a completely different level.
"She's obviously very important. She takes us to another level, for sure. Those games where it's hard-fought both ways and it's close and you need that one player to break through."
Allen, a team captain, is happy to be back with her high school team. She gets to play with her classmates and help the Lions chase their first soccer state title.
"It's a great opportunity to play with other players from my school," Allen said of high school soccer. "I just love it here. Coach Driver's a great coach and it's a fun atmosphere."