By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Kali Furry and Whitney Browning are soccer teammates and senior classmates at Graham High School.
They will also be staying together in the future, with the duo having signed letters of intent on Tuesday to play soccer in the fall at Bluefield College.
Tom Price, the first-year Bluefield women’s soccer coach is thrilled to add a pair of talented, local athletes to his squad.
“I feel like they both will contribute right away and we are really excited about having them,” Price said. “I really enjoyed getting to know these two young ladies in the recruiting process, just interacting with them and talking with them.
“I feel very confident they are quality young ladies and I am really look forward to having them both be part of the program.”
The feeling is mutual. Both Furry and Browning, who were key components of the G-Girls’ run to the Group A state championship game last season, are excited for the opportunity to continuing playing at the next level.
“I have always played soccer and I think it will help me stay focused in college,” said Furry, who will major in sports medicine. “I slid back and forth with the decision and I just decided on doing it.”
Browning echoed those sentiments.
“I have always wanted to play soccer at the college level, it has always been my passion to play a sport in college,” said Browning, a talented musician who will major in music at Bluefield. “I like the surroundings of Bluefield College, especially since it is in a Christian setting and you have good influences.”
No one was more proud to see the signing than Kali’s father, Hank Furry, who is the successful girls coach for the G-Girls.
“I am excited because this will be our fourth girl to sign since the girls program got started here at Graham,” Furry said, “and just the fact that we got two signing this year and playing local.
“I hope it says a lot to the community about the opportunity that is out there for the girls in the community in Princeton and PikeView and Tazewell and Richlands and all the area schools that we have had as part of the East River Association. There is an opportunity, if you want to play, this would be a great opportunity for you.”
Furry is one of the area’s most avid soccer supporters, serving not only as the coach of the G-Girls, but is also the head of the East River Soccer Association, while tending to the fields at the East River Soccer Complex that are used by the Graham and Bluefield College soccer teams.
“To me it is real exciting because. one, I get a chance to see (Kali) play some more and two, I feel like I am unofficially part of the BC program in the fall because I am in such communication with Pete and this year it will be Tom,” Furry said, “making the sure the field is ready, and what do they need because we really like to try to make sure we are a great host when schools come in to play them at East River.”
Price, who was most recently the head women’s coach at Southern Wesleyan in Central, S.C., learned about the possibility of Tuesday’s signees from Furry, and liked what he saw on the pitch.
“When Coach Furry got ahold of me and mentioned that a couple of players might be interested in continuing to play at Bluefield, I made it a priority to go out and see them play,” said Price, to the girls. “I was really impressed with your work rate and athleticism and your natural touch on the ball.”
With the future now decided for both of them, the task ahead is to enjoy their senior campaign, which follows last year’s success when the G-Girls fell one game short of a Group A state championship.
“We made it to the states last year so that was really awesome and the year before that we made it past the first round of regions and we hadn’t done that before so it was really good,” Kali Furry said. “It helped with work ethic and everything we need to push ourselves.”
Browning, whose brothers, Chase and Heath, were standout wrestlers at Graham, is a four-year varsity performer for the G-Girls, who is excited about being a part of a close-knit team with a history of success.
“It has been amazing, starting out as a freshman and getting to play on varsity, it gives you a boost of confidence and just trying your hardest and always giving 100 percent,” Browning said.
“Our success as a team, just putting us 100 percent together and it just flows.”
Both players credited their time at Graham with preparing them for the life after high school.
“Graham has prepared me by having a good work ethic and everyone teaches you to be responsible for your own work and be responsible for what you do in your decisions,” Browning said. “I just think Graham has been a great role model because it is small too and it just kind of puts you right in place to be at home at Bluefield College.”
—Contact Brian Woodson