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Girls Athlete of the Week: Johnson's Chandler Steele

POSTED: April 22, 2013 8:38 p.m.

Confidence, calmness and chemistry are key to Johnson forward Chandler Steele’s success on the soccer field this season.

As a junior, Steele is one of the primary offensive threats on a playoff-bound Lady Knights team. It’s due in part to her power, but mostly to her ability to make smart decisions and communicate with her teammates.

“She is calm,” Johnson coach Phil Higgins said. “I don’t see her rush. I can see her make decisions, and she knows that she can buy time for herself with her skills and physicality. She is a threat from wherever on the field.”

Steele’s offensive abilities, calm disposition and confidence in herself were evident in a pair of Region 8-AAAA wins last week. In a 7-0 victory against Madison County last Tuesday, she notched a hat trick and two assists. On Friday, she recorded a pair of assists in a 4-1 win against Stephens County.

For her efforts, Steele is The Times Girls Athlete of the Week.

“Scoring that hat trick made me feel like I was on top of the world, but I couldn’t do it without my team,” Steele said. “I have teammates that support me whether I make or miss those shots.”

She won the team’s Most Improved award last season for her progress, but Higgins notes that she continues to improve even more as this season has gone on.

“This year, she’s gotten much more confident shooting,” Higgins said. “She takes long-range free kicks for us, and she has the finesse to finish well other times.”

Shooting is something Steele is constantly working on with the Lady Knights’ assistant coaches, as well as her club team, Atlanta Fire.

“I give a lot of kudos to (Johnson assistant) coach Victor (Castandea),” Steele said. “He’s helped me a lot these past few years. He has taught me to lean over when I shoot to give me more power when striking the ball, and it’s helped a lot.”

In addition to her power, Steele also has speed and a physical presence on the field, something she attributes to her time playing club soccer.

“The Atlanta Fire, they play much quicker,” she said. “It’s one-touch passing most of the game, so I play a lot quicker now, and I’ve gotten a lot faster.

“I take more shots now than I used to and at a quicker pace.”

While her speed is essential to her scoring touch, Higgins emphasized how important Steele’s physicality is to the Lady Knights.

“She’s not afraid,” he said. “No matter how big the other girl is, she will challenge her.”

Her mentality carries over to her teammates, and it also helps her take time to make good decisions about passing the ball or shooting in crucial situations.

“I’m a good passer,” Steele said. “Giving an assist is just as good as scoring a goal in my opinion, but scoring is the best feeling in the world.”

Passing, speed and physicality are all things that Steele has been working on over the years, but her more recent goals involve scoring.

“We set goals at the beginning of the season, and one of my goals was to finish more shots,” Steele said. “Now, my goal is to make as many as I can. I want to beat the record at Johnson. It’s going to be really hard, but I believe in myself.”

Steele still has one more year with the program to make her goal a reality, but she plans on focusing on the team as a whole as well.

“I plan on focusing on the freshmen and sophomores and lifting them up and getting them ready for when I leave,” she said. “I just want to build up and be able to go to playoffs next year again.”

“We’re definitely going to win region next year. I have no doubt about it.”


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