For Fason, it was UCA, always UCA

Like most folks her age — most folks of any age, perhaps — Alyssa Fason would rather “chill”. By all means, it’s better than being stressed.

That’s one of the reasons, the Bryant Lady Hornets senior soccer player enjoys playing forward now.

“I started out, when I was little, I always played defender,” she said. “My 10thgrade year, I started playing midfield, just to switch it out just a little bit. When I started playing Club this past summer, I told them I just wanted to play forward. I told them I’d always played there, just because I always wanted them to play me there.

“I would not go back to defense for anything,” she asserted. “It’s a lot of stress. As a forward, I know I have the wings to help me. As a defender, you are kind of stranded. You’re out there by yourself a lot. I don’t know, it’s just a lot more stressful back there. I feel like I can just chill up at forward.”

Lady Hornets head coach Nicole Inman is fine with that.

Inman went to watch Fason play during the summer and, “She was like, ‘You’re playing forward for our high school team. You’re amazing. And it stands out,’” Fason recalled.

“She’s super-fast,” Inman acknowledged, “and she turns on a dime with the ball, which is hard to do. And she listens and she’s very coachable and I appreciate that.”

Fason said, “I’m not very good with my feet, just because I played defender all my life and I just had to kick it up the field and hope the forward gets it. I have to work on that a little bit. But I know I’m fast.

Officially, as of Monday, Alyssa, the daughter of Marcy and Mike Fason, will be vying to play forward for the Bears of the University of Central Arkansas as she signed a national letter of intent to continue her academic and athletic career under scholarship at the Conway school.

“It’s always been UCA,” she said. “Ever since I was little, I’ve been going to their soccer camps, every year. 

“When we were talking to the coach (Jeremy Bishop) the other day, he told me that the only reason he didn’t offer me sooner was because he thought I might get late bigger offers,” Fason related. “But that was always where I wanted to go. So, I had my mind set on UCA.”

In fact, even though she visited other schools, Fason wasn’t sure she wanted to keep playing if it wasn’t at UCA.

“I went to Arkansas State and OBU and I was kind of back-and-forth, since I hadn’t heard from UCA, I was kind of giving up on soccer,” she allowed. “I wasn’t really like — I didn’t want to go anywhere else. It wasn’t home to me like UCA really is.”

Actually, Fason didn’t realize she needed to be in contact with UCA early on. Instead of letting them know as a freshman or sophomore that she was hoping to play in college and at UCA, she waited until the end of her junior year.

“It’s just so they know you’re coming up, so they can make room for you,” she explained. “One of the girls (UCA had signed) dropped out, so I got lucky. They had an opening for me.”

Inman added, “She did something really great, I think, just to demonstrate to other players that are interested in going places, that you do need to continue to talk to the coaches.”

The coach related, “Alyssa is a great senior. I’m really going to miss her. It’s been just a huge blessing just to have her in my life the last few years. And to just see her smile is fun. She’s one of the only players I know that comes off the field and just smiles a lot. A lot of her pictures, when she’s taking somebody on, she’s smiling. She’s been blessed with a great smile and she uses it. I’m very thankful for that.”

Regarding the school, Fason said, “It’s close to home. Their soccer team’s amazing. They get to travel a lot. It’s just perfect to me.

“I think I’m going to study something like Exercise Science,” she added. “I definitely want to do something in the medical field and athletics. I may be an athletic trainer or in physical therapy. They’re the best physical therapy school in Arkansas.”

“Last year, I had the opportunity to see her at UCA camp,” Inman mentioned. “It was fun to just watch and know there are coaches that are excited about her. 

“I am also excited because she’s going to be close enough for us to go and watch her play,” the coach added. “I know her coach is really excited about her going up there. She has the opportunity to, I think, make an impact, to go up there and surprise them and do some great things right away.”

Fason, Inman and the Lady Hornets still have most of the 2019 season ahead of them too. After finishing as State runner-up last year, they’ve got big plans and high hopes. They begin play in a tournament in Conway this Friday.

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