Warm summer mornings and cold winter evenings, full of hard practice and pushing herself to be the best player she can be. These are things Varsity soccer player Junior Eleana (Laney) Smith experiences year-round to reach the achievements she has been able to reach.
On October 5, 2022, Smith verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati for soccer.
According to the NCAA, a verbal commitment happens when a college-bound student-athlete verbally agrees to play a sport for a college before they are eligible to sign a National Letter of Intent.
Smith has been playing soccer since she was 3 years old and played in a YMCA coed little league. Smith ultimately started playing soccer because of her dad.
“My dad was super passionate about soccer and saw something in me. So I started taking it a little more seriously year by year and I joined some tougher teams and I just realized that I have some sense of talent,” said Smith.
After the YMCA league, Smith joined a club soccer team called Kings Hammer around the second grade.
“She was so funny at the Kings Hammer tryouts because there was a swarm of little girls on multiple fields, and the coach was walking around with clipboards evaluating. When the coach huddled them all in at the end to give directions and explain the cutting and team selection process, he said, ‘Does anyone have questions?’ she raised her hand and said, ‘So when do we start!?’ He busted out laughing and became one of her favorite coaches ever when she made the team,” said Laney’s mother Joy Smith.
Smith began playing for Highlands soccer during her freshman year of high school. Within that same year, she began playing as a striker or midfielder on the varsity team.
Within the 25 games this year, Smith has scored 31 goals averaging 1.2 goals a game. Due to this, Smith is ranked 44th in KHSSA’s top 50 points for the girls.
Leadership and hard work are a major part of Smith’s role on the team. Over the past few years, she has become a leader many look upon whether it be help or advice.
Smith’s sister, Ruby Smith, mentioned how soccer has strengthened their relationship on and off the field.
“I think soccer has strengthened our relationship because it is something we have grown up playing. From playing in our backyard to playing in rec leagues to joining club teams, to now high school, soccer has always been fun to experience. I think soccer has been an integral part of our childhood, and I am super excited to see where the sport takes Laney in college and beyond!”
Smith has received other looks from other local colleges from colleges like Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky, Dayton, Ohio, and Miami but ultimately chose the University of Cincinnati.
“Ultimately UC was my first offer and that was also another standout that, they wanted me quicker than some of the other places,” said Smith.
Along with Laney, Laney’s family is thrilled for her and can’t wait to watch her play at the University of Cincinnati in the 2024-2025 season while accomplishing her dream of playing at a D1 college.
One of Smith’s favorite quotes is what Rose Lavelle said when she spoke on Fountain Square after winning the World Cup for the US women’s soccer team.
“What makes my hometown so special is the people,” Lavelle said at the event. “I think Cincinnati has the best kind of people. I think there’s so much pride and love here.”