Georgia Gwinnett College’s Kelsey Griswold, a Shiloh graduate, boots the ball upfield earlier this season. (Special Photo: GGC athletics)
LAWRENCEVILLE — There are aways a few seats at Georgia Gwinnett College’s soccer facility sure to be filled.
And if Kelsey Griswold’s whole family attends they are good to take up a whole row.
The Snellville native and graduate of Shiloh High School, is one of 10 children ranging in age from 38 to 17, and with the exception of a few living near Washington, D.C., the clan mostly lives in and around Gwinnett County.
“(My) parents come to all my home games and my sisters and brothers when they don’t have to work,” Griswold said. “They are my No. 1 support system.”
Griswold didn’t look too far away when she pursued her college soccer opportunities. She looked around Georgia and near D.C. and New York. There were at least some family near every spot.
“It was too far,” Griswold said. “I couldn’t deal with it being that far from them.”
Though they are always in the stands and Sunday still means family dinner, Griswold has made her own life at GGC. She lived on campus her freshman year and now lives in an apartment with roommates.
“It’s the first time I’ve had my own bedroom,” she said. But family is close enough, intentionally.
“Every home game the are here, yelling, cheering for me. Every Sunday we have our Sunday dinner,” Griswold said. “I definitely wanted them to be able to come and watch all my home games and they have made that happen.”
Anchored by her family, GGC fit Griswold’s highest aspirations for college soccer and, due to her talent, reciprocated interest from the Grizzlies.
“I think we were very fortunate to have the opportunity to recruit Kelsey,” said GGC head women’s soccer coach Domenic Martelli. “Not only the level she played at in high school, but playing at the highest level of club.”
Like all of GGC’s current crop of players, Griswold was recruited to a promise. She considered, briefly, dropping soccer and focusing on school.
“I thought about it, not playing, but playing for so long soccer has been a major part of my life and I couldn’t even think about (my life without soccer),” said Griswold, who started playing at age 5. “I got the opportunity and I took it.”
Martelli and the Grizzlies keep reaping the benefits. A center-back for GGC, Griswold doesn’t have a goal, but has assisted on four goals from a position designed more to start scoring chances rather than finish them.
“We look to her to be the anchor in a lot of different areas but when you can start with her in the back everybody just plays better from there on, all the way up,” Martelli said, who referred to Griswold as the Grizzlies “anchor” more than once in talking about his second-year player. “(She’s) the kind of person you want and the quality of person you want on the team. She is going to be the anchor for us for the next couple of years.”
Right now, Griswold is an anchor on a 14-3-1 team which begins play in the Association of Independent Institutions Tournament at home Friday. Hosting a tournament is a long climb from the bumpy grass field the team practiced and played on a season ago.
“It’s been amazing, coming from pretty much nothing,” Griswold said. “Getting a brand new athletic facility and getting a brand new turf field. It really has been awesome and I am so glad to be a part of it.”