ONA — Emilie Charles owned scholarship offers from all over the country, but found the best fit for her was close to home.
Charles, Cabell Midland High School’s girls soccer star, committed to West Virginia University on Monday, selecting the Mountaineers over a bevy of outstanding universities. She said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown, who has been at WVU for 22 years, sold her on the Morgantown school.
“I love coach Izzo,” Charles said. “They have amazing athletic and academic programs. They offer a variety of academic opportunities, and the soccer program is outstanding.”
The all-time leading scorer in West Virginia high school girls soccer history with 178 goals, Charles was heavily recruited. The salutatorian in her class, she is highly decorated academically, which led to her acceptance to Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine, Wake Forest, Purdue and others. Charles sorted through dozens of offers and strongly considered Marshall. She didn’t, however, lead anyone on.
“I thanked schools for recruiting me and politely told them if I wasn’t interested,” Charles said. “I didn’t want them to waste their time.”
Charles was anything but ungrateful during the recruiting process. She said she was flattered to be sought by so many prestigious schools, but WVU long had been at the top of her list.
“That’s where I really wanted to go,” said Charles, who plans to major in mathematics.
That’s easy to understand. The Mountaineers have been ranked in the top 20 in the nation each of the last 20 seasons and during that time reached the Sweet 16 seven times. WVU went 12-8-2 overall and 5-3-1 in the Big 12 last season.
The Mountaineers graduated just four seniors, meaning Charles will join a veteran team.
“My first year will be an adjustment to college soccer,” Charles said. “Coach Izzo was honest with me and told me this level will be a whole other world from high school and travel soccer. She said I’ll get used to that. I’m really excited to get started and compete at such a high level.”
Charles said she has been working out with her sister, Olivia, a freshman at Cabell Midland, to stay in shape during the COVID-19 pandemic. The three-time state player of the year and first-team All-American thanked many people for helping her earn a scholarship.
“God blessed me,” Charles said. “He blessed me with an amazing family that pushed me as far as I could go. I had so many coaches — Andy (Wilson) at Cabell Midland, Kyle Sniatecki my travel coach and so many people helped me get here.”