Ragsdale's Dixon signs with UNCA
Keller Dixon had her goals set from a very early age.
Even though they were lofty goals, she was determined to do everything she could to reach them. Now Dixon, who graduated early from Ragsdale, has achieved her most immediate goal of playing NCAA Division I soccer for UNC Asheville.
“I want to take it as far as I can,” says Dixon, the daughter of Katherine and Montague of Jamestown. “I don't really want to ever really stop playing. I like the idea of being on a team in college. That's always been kind of a dream for me. Ever since I was little, I was like, 'I'm going to play in college, and I'm going to play pro.'
“Pro may be a little bit of a stretch, but college was definitely something that was achievable.
So, I just wanted to keep working toward that goal of playing in college. And now that I'm in college, I want to work toward the goal of being the best I can be and helping my team get to a championship at some point.”
Dixon began playing soccer recreationally when she was 5 years old. She jumped up to playing on a club team, one of a handful until high school, when she was in the fifth grade and continued playing while she was at Jamestown Middle.
Originally, she played in the field at forward. But she got a taste of playing goalkeeper around the fifth or sixth grade as a fill-in for an injured teammate – “I made a couple saves and was like, 'This is pretty cool. I'm kind of good at it,'” she says. That feeling stuck.
She started training at it. But because there was another goalkeeper in front of her, she still mainly played in the field. In the seventh grade, though, she made another team that said she could play full-time and finally she focused on playing only goalkeeper.
“I just love the feeling – it's a lot of pressure, but I enjoy that pressure of making that split-second save or diving in the air,” she says with a laugh. “That's one of my favorite parts about it. It's crazy. It's kind of like flying, but not really.”
Into high school, Dixon made the team at Ragsdale and the N.C. Fusion club team. During her three years, she made all-region three times, All-Piedmont Triad 4A twice and was chosen PTC Defensive Player of the Year and all-state as a junior.
She helped the Tigers, led by hall of fame coach Brien Braswell, go 45-11-8 during her career, compete among the top teams in the PTC, and reach the second round of the 4A playoffs each year – plus making it to the third round as a junior.
She worked hard just about every day, practicing and playing. She focused on communicating better, which is a must for any goalkeeper, she says. And she juggled the ups and downs of playing at a high level while also trying to get recruited.
Because she was young for her club teams, she felt the urge to pursue colleges as a sophomore because her older teammates were committing. So, she talked with schools like East Carolina and Charlotte. But when she visited Asheville, she felt like that was it.
After committing as a junior to the Bulldogs, with whom several teammates on her club team already play, she also then began considering graduating early. She got it squared away with Asheville and Ragsdale and began taking classes and working with the team in the spring.
“Once I got to Asheville and looked around, I didn't think there was any place I'd rather be,” says Dixon, who wants to study health and wellness and eventually become a physical therapist. “I just felt like it was the one school I wanted to go to. I loved the size.
“I wasn't big on going to a huge school. I wanted to go to a school where I could talk to my professors one on one and get help. And it's just really beautiful up there, and everyone's really friendly. There's just something about it – a 'when you know, you know' type of thing.”