Lady Owl standout signs with LCU; Joshua’s Graycen Rasmussen to continue stellar soccer career | Local News

JOSHUA — Joshua Senior Graycen Rasmussen, one of the most accomplished soccer players in Johnson County history, signed Friday to continue her distinguished career at Lubbock Christian University.

Rasmussen’s name is in the record book of Lady Owl football. And she saved her best for last with a memorable senior campaign in which she scored 47 goals, breaking the school record she set last year (33) for goals in a single season. Rasmussen also owns the mark for goals in a single game (six) and finished with 95 career goals, the second-highest in Joshua girls’ soccer history behind Caylen Wright’s 109.

Rasmussen played a key role in helping the Lady Owls to a District 14 5A championship this year, their first district title since 2018. Joshua also won and achieved his ninth straight two-district title that season regional quarterfinals before falling to 2nd at Highland Park.

And after a record-breaking high school career for the Lady Owls, Rasmussen has now taken the first steps in her next chapter and achieved a big goal of hers by signing with Lubbock Christian University for the opportunity to continue at the collegiate level to play.

“It’s really a fulfillment of the dreams I had when I started playing seriously for my club sides at the age of 10,” said Rasmussen. “It was always in the back of my mind but became a reality watching all my Sparta FC02 team-mates sign last year. And then came two catastrophic knee injuries, COVID and National League cancellations – no opportunities in sight – and it was so quiet on the recruiting front and I was afraid I was going to miss it. Then last Thanksgiving it all kind of fell into place. I got five or six offers and suddenly I had to decide which one would suit me best. I went from anxious to dizzy and back to anxious.”

Rasmussen said she chose to sign with Lubbock Christian University because she saw the Lady Chaps as the best fit for her, not just on the field but as a student and as a Christian.

“I attended the campus, and although it was smaller, it suited me well,” Rasmussen said. “The girls were very welcoming and you could tell they were serious about bringing a championship to LCU. The culture and atmosphere really reflected what Coach [Jeff] Brooks drummed it into us in high school – 30 girls with the same goal, marching to the same tune with a single goal. LCU head coach [Alex] Denning and Coach Brooke [Wendl] I was very open to what life as a collegiate athlete would be like, lots of structure, and I do very well in that environment. I am happy that LCU is focused on bringing students closer to God and living a Christian lifestyle. It was the perfect fit for me.

“From an early age I wanted to play for my father’s school, Texas A&M, but as I got older and learned more about the game, I looked for schools that play the style of football that suits me best. I’m primarily an attacking center and I love the programs that play from back through center and forward, very precise and allow me to find openings and push the ball forward. Everyone thinks scoring is my thing, but I’m most looking forward to becoming the LCU preparer.”

Rasmussen said although LCU initially stood out, it was a difficult decision because it received offers from several quality programs before eventually settling on Lubbock Christian University, a member of the Lone Star Conference in NCAA Division II.

“There was a mix of DI, DII, and DII schools that reached out to me after the November presentation,” she said. “There have also been a variety of NAIA programs that have asked me to attend. But it really came down to the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, the DBU, Angelo State and Lubbock Christian. When I reviewed the offers, they all kind of gave me a week to make the decision. This was possibly the hardest part of the recruitment process, but something about LCU just felt right. They say if you go on campus you just know when it’s right. And that was the case with Coach Denning and LCU.”

While Rasmussen’s high school resume is impressive for the numbers she’s put up, her accomplishments are even more impressive when you consider that during her freshman and sophomore seasons, she overcame two separate season-ending ACL injuries. Rasmussen said she is grateful for a strong support system that has not only been by her side during her injury recovery but also helped shape her as a player.

“First, I couldn’t have achieved what I have without the support of my parents,” she said. “They, like all parents of athletes, made sacrifices, spent their weekends in camps, games, training sessions and did whatever needed to be done to support my football habit. Second club coaches Lee Hefley and Nick Walker and [Joshua] Coach Jeff Brooks. They built a system that allowed me to thrive and pushed, pushed and cajoled to get the best out of me every game, every year. They were the architects of my development as a player. A lot of players leave teams every two or three years, I’ve been with Sparta FC since I was 11 years old.

“After all, I have to see Dr. Daniel Cooper of the Carrell Clinic and the Dallas Cowboys surgeon and my physical therapist Nichole Galle of AOA Performance. Both worked wonders for me, not just once but twice. They’ve made me stronger, faster, more confident and got me back on court quicker than most.”

Rasmussen is the 16th Joshua girls soccer player to sign with a college program as of 2017 — a number Brooks is proud of as a former college soccer player herself.

“Words don’t say it [how excited I am for her]’ Brooks said. “College football has been such a defining time in my life and it’s great to see that Graycen has found such a good cast to continue her career. Football is just one part of a larger mosaic, but an important part for them. We will obviously miss her here, but it will be a lot of fun to see her develop as a player and as a leader.”

Brooks said what’s most striking about Rasmussen is her constant desire to improve.

“She certainly impressed me seven years ago when, as a fifth-grader at her brother Seth’s cross-country meet, she approached me and told me she would be my first attacking midfielder in four years,” Brooks said. “She wasn’t wrong. She spent most of that year playing there. But Graycen’s quality was pretty evident from day one and I’m so proud of how she’s worked hard to improve year on year.

“I’ve said it before, but Graycen’s most striking quality is her willingness to work to keep improving. Everything else depends on that trait because, to be honest, I can’t think of a single piece of her game that she hasn’t improved over the last four years. In particular, she is an excellent shooter of football, especially from afar. She’s willing to take shots others don’t. She is excellent at using leverage to hold the ball and propel the ball forward. And it has also turned into an air force.”

While Rasmussen has been a standout player for both Joshua and her club football team, she said she was looking forward to taking on new competition.

“[I’m most excited about] to make the leap from top-flight club football to an even more competitive and intense football environment,” said Rasmussen. “The girls I play against are some of the best in Texas and the surrounding regions, so I know I have to step up a few notches to keep up. I just hope I can come in as a newbie, make a difference and keep growing as a player. I’m also looking forward to playing against my high school and club mates. We’ve always been on the same side of the field and now I can see what I can do against them.”

After her record-breaking season, which also included 33 goals in 12 district games, Rasmussen was named District 14-5A Most Valuable Player.

LCU sets an 8-7-2 record in the 2021 season.

Leave a Comment