Claudia Dickey is known for her stellar play in goal. However, her move to central holding midfielder proved to be one of the major deciding factors in helping Charlotte Latin capture its third consecutive N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A state championship and its eighth in 10 years.
Providence Day coach Dan Dudley told Hawks’ coach Lee Horton Dickey was the difference.
She scored on a header from nearly 15 yards with 18 minutes left in the game. It proved to be the game winner to defeat Providence Day 1-0 on May 19. The Hawks, who avenged a loss and tie that felt like another loss to the Chargers, went from getting dominated in the air to handling Providence Day in that category, because Dickey won every head ball.
Those early setbacks against Providence Day made Dickey and her teammates mad. The girls were focused on winning by the time the playoffs rolled around. It showed.
Dickey said playing for Latin puts a weight on the shoulders of those who come through its program. The rich history of soccer success pushes her and her teammate sto keep it going.
“You’re honored to be a part of it, but you always have to be honest with yourself,” Dickey said. “If you’re not working hard somebody’s going to outwork you. We know everybody is going out to get us.”
Horton made the decision to move Dickey from goal to playing in the field. She wanted to do whatever was best for the team even if it sacrificed personal acclaim and recognition, which made the position change an easy transition.
Now, Dickey, who was named the State Player of the Year by the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association, is the South Charlotte Weekly Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year after an impressive junior season.
Dickey’s parents got her into dance when she was a young child, but quickly realized sports were a better fit for their daughter. She picked up basketball and soccer, proving to be a natural at both.
Basketball has helped her significantly in soccer. For example, she has learned how to judge a ball in the air and learn how to use her hands effectively.
“I don’t think people realize how playing other sports helps not only to get a break, but there’s other things that come with playing other sports,” Dickey said.
Dickey, an all-state basketball player who took biology as a junior, enjoys science. Math is another subject she enjoys. It helps her in sports, too, because she has a good understanding of angles.
As a point guard she is used to having the ball in her hands, orchestrating the offense and playing defense. That translated well to when she stepped in to play central holding mid. However, it helped as a goalie, too, because she had developed a knack for judging the ball in the air and how to use her hands effectively.
Part of the decision to move Dickey from goal to the field was to help Ruthie Jones develop as a keeper. As a selfless, team-first player, Dickey wanted what was best for Latin and Jones, so she was on board for the position change when Horton decided to go with it.
The wheels began to turn in Horton’s mind about putting Dickey in the field after a trip to Trinidad and Tobago a year ago. He took a small group of Latin players to the dual-island Caribbean Nation, where they faced the country’s U15 National Team twice. Horton needed Dickey to play some at central holding midfielder due to the makeup of the team and its limited numbers. She thrived in the field.
Horton told Dickey when she was an eighth-grader that she was going to play major Division I soccer or basketball.
“I said I don’t care what it ends up being,” Horton said. “I’m going to love watching you. If you end up deciding you want to do it in soccer I’m going to be here to help you. She’s so unbelievable in basketball.”
Dickey, who is verbally committed to the University of North Carolina’s women’s soccer team, has the option to join the Tar Heels’ women’s basketball team as a walk-on if she desires to do so.