ALAMO, Tenn. - Senior standout Jodi Butler was well aware that many of her Crockett County teammates were young and inexperienced when the 2016 soccer season began.
"It got off to a rough start," Butler said Monday when discussing the season. "There were some who had played in middle school and some who'd never played, so we had to start small to make ourselves big."
Quite humble, almost embarrassed to discuss her own actions, Butler became the catalyst for a team that posted an 8-5 overall record, 3-3 in a strong District 13 A-AA field, and earned the District Offensive Player of the Year award.
Last week, she became the first Lady Cavaliers soccer player to earn All-State recognition when the Tennessee High School Soccer Coaches Association named their annual All-State team.
Butler, who scored 33 goals this season and added six assists, is the daughter of Amanda and Chris Cottingham and Tony Butler. The petite brunette with an infectious smile holds the CCHS record for goals scored in a game with eight.
Crockett County soccer coach Richard Kemper knew his offensive spark was something special.
"She was a leader for us on and off the field," Kemper said. "Jodi has a tremendous ability to score and she carried us offensively."
Butler was joined by Aly Goodman, a freshman from South Gibson, and Taylor Welch, a senior from Dyersburg, as the only other local district representatives.
The honoree was shocked to hear she received the state recognition.
"I never really knew what 'all-state' meant," she said. "Nobody's ever made it from Crockett County, so it wasn't something we talked about."
According to Kemper, his leader helped the young team make great strides.
"She helped us achieve a new level of success this year and hopefully we can keep that momentum moving forward," he said. "She is very deserving of all her accolades."
Butler was proud the team won all of the regular season contests of the new soccer field on the CCHS campus.
"We were glad to get the new field this year and wanted to represent, you know," she said with a laugh. "That was our field."
Although the team was ousted from tournament play in the opening round on the home turf, it was still an exciting season.
"We had a winning record," she exclaimed. "In my four years, it was the first winning season."
If the new all-state athlete has her way, it won't be the last time she's involved in Lady Cavalier's soccer. She plans to attend Bethel University, in McKenzie, to major in education, get a teaching degree and return to Crockett County to direct the soccer program.
"I thought about moving away, but this is home," she said. 'I love this place. This is where I want to be."
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