CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Erin Foote has dreamed the past few years of attending Winthrop University’s education college and becoming a teacher.

She’ll get that chance, and also take to the pitch for the Eagles’ women’s soccer team this fall.

The Kubasaki Dragons senior striker said she committed Thursday to Winthrop and has received a partial scholarship of nearly $7,600, which will cover about 40 percent of total annual cost.

“I’m excited about this,” said Foote, a three-time All-Far East player. “We weren’t expecting any money at all. We read the e-mail over and over in disbelief.”

Foote, a three-sport star at Kubasaki, has scored a Pacific region-best 89 goals in three seasons. Kubasaki won the Far East Class AA Tournament title in her freshman and sophomore years and lost 2-0 to Kadena in the 2004 tournament final at Camp Zama, Japan.

She’ll join a Winthrop Eagles team that last fall went 5-13-0 overall and 1-7-0 to finish last in the Division I-A Big South Conference.

Foote committed verbally to Winthrop on Thursday, she said, and will send a National Letter of Intent on Feb. 1, national signing day.

Winthrop women’s soccer coach Melissa Heinz acknowledged that the school is “recruiting Foote,” but said she could not comment about her until after national signing day.

Even without the chance to play soccer, Foote said she’d planned on attending Winthrop, located in Rock Hill, N.C., which didn’t have a women’s soccer program until two years ago.

“With or without soccer, my No. 1 choice was Winthrop,” said Foote. “Getting the scholarship was just a bonus.”

Her primary goal is to become a teacher, said Foote, whose mother, Laurie, is a Sure Start paraprofessional at Kadena Elementary School.

Winthrop’s Coach Heinz and Foote go back a few years, to Foote’s days in Gulfport, Miss., where her father, Marine Master Sgt. Bill Foote, was stationed.

While coaching at William Carey College in Gulfport, Miss., Heinz also ran an under-14 girls select program at Gulfport, for which Foote played.

“My dad taught me the basics of soccer and Coach Heinz fine-tuned them,” Foote said. “She was a fun coach, made every aspect of the game interesting and fun.”

One of her opposing coaches, Hoa Nguyen of Kadena, gives Foote high marks for her abilities and says she has the potential to go far in college.

“She’s quick, she’s deadly from outside and that makes her very dangerous,” Nguyen said.

“She has good skills, she dribbles well and she finishes well. I’ve coached many girls who are quick and have skills, but are not good finishers. She finishes well, and that’s the scary part.”

Foote has expressed a desire to teach in the DODDS-Pacific system, and someday return to Okinawa to perhaps succeed Terry Chumley as Dragons coach.

“Awesome,” Chumley said of the news. “I’m really proud of her. She’s really deserving. Her dreams are going to come true, playing soccer in college.”

Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes

Kubasaki Dragons striker Erin Foote (3, with ball) battles with Kadena Panthers midfielder Courtnie Paschall for control during the championship match of the 2004 Far East High School Girls Class AA Soccer Tournament at Trojans Field, Camp Zama, Japan. Foote, a senior at Kubasaki and a three-time All-Far East player with a Pacific-best 89 goals in those three seasons, has committed to Winthrop and received a partial scholarship to play women’s soccer.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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