ANNA — It was a time of celebration and reflection on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at Anna High School as one its own officially moved toward fulfilling a dream. On this National Signing Day, when high school athletes across the country officially accepted collegiate scholarship offers, teammates, family members and coaches of Liz Spivey gathered in the school library to watch her accept Howard Payne University’s offer to play soccer for the Yellow Jackets.

Proud parents Doug and Kaci Spivey were on hand and seated with their daughter as she signed the requisite documents.

“I’m just really excited because I got something that I’ve wanted since I was a little kid,” Spivey said. “It’s all becoming real, so it’s pretty cool. … I had a couple of offers,” she added, “but when I went and visited (Howard Payne) that’s when I decided that’s where I wanted to go. I really enjoyed it.”

She intends to study psychology and sociology at HPU.

Anna head coach Scott Turner spoke highly of Spivey at the afternoon event.

“Liz Spivey is a very technical player,” he said. “She brings excellent tactical understanding to the game. She’s quick and has a scoring touch. … The personality of the team changes when she walks into the locker room. They all light up. She adds a different dimension, not just on the field but off the field.”

He added the opportunity to play a sport in college is something that’s plenty impressive.

“Playing college soccer is not easy to achieve,” Turner said. “That can be the goal but it doesn’t always pan out. So it’s a great thing when a school recruits a student-athlete and gives them the opportunity to compete. I think Liz will be a very good addition to Howard Payne University. She’s certainly a dynamic player that can play multiple roles on the field, with the added ability to score goals.”

Spivey said what she will remember most about her days as a Lady Coyote are the bonds she shared with teammates.

“I’m going to miss that,” she said.

Spivey came to Anna as a sophomore and has been an All-District pick from District 5-4A each of last two seasons. And for two years now, she has also won the team’s Purple Boot award for most goals scored in a season.

Spivey is part of what Howard Payne officials have said will be a strong recruiting class that should bolster the school’s 11-year-old program. The Division III Yellow Jackets compete in the American Southwest Conference and advanced to the conference championship tournament in 2010 and 2011. HPU is located in Brownwood, Texas.

Anna’s Girls Athletics Coordinator Grant Bergman noted that much goes into reaching a moment like this.

“In a lot of ways it’s the ultimate goal for a young child that starts playing team sports and the parents that foster that development, taking them to practice and teaching them basic fundamentals. And you get to this moment where you’ve got to feel like the fruits of your labor are being rewarded. You can’t be anything but proud for a young lady like Liz, who has added the effort and the sportsmanship and everything it takes to be a good team player with the God-given talent she’s been awarded. … We’re certainly proud of any athlete at Anna that gets this opportunity. We look forward to those numbers growing in the future.”

Anna Athletic Director Jason Heath shared his thoughts on witnessing a Coyote or Lady Coyote achieve such success.

“I’m just very proud, proud of their accomplishment,” he said. “They’ll be able to go represent Anna in a different part of the state and kind of help put Anna on the map. Still a lot of people don’t know where Anna’s at. We’re a growing town, a growing district. For them to go out and represent our district in a positive light is something that we’re always proud of. Anytime any of our students go and further their education, that’s something we want to celebrate.”

By the way, Spivey’s high school career is not yet done. With soccer’s district slate still ahead, Lady Coyote fans have plenty of chances to see her and her teammates in action.

“We’re glad that we have her here, representing our program,” Heath said.