Lucia Avila didn't have to look too far for a connection to a college soccer program.
On Thursday, the Lady Chicks senior signed to play for Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College in Moore. The women's program there is coached by Anthony Willetts, the father of former Chickasha girls' player Alyssa Willetts and current boys' player Javier Willetts.
"I always felt like if I ever had the opportunity to be a head coach, I would want to recruit her," Willetts said.
Avila has been a regular starter for the Lady Chicks since her sophomore year. In 2015, she was part of a stingy Chickasha defensive line that formed the base for a run to the 4A State semifinals.
This season, Avila maintains a defensive role with the added quality of leading the team from the back.
"I'm hoping to stay in the defensive area," she said. "If not, I can move up. [Chickasha Head Coach Bethany] Goble tells me I can play anywhere I want, but I'd rather stay in defense."
Hillsdale's small size compared to other universities sold Avila on signing for the Saints, she said.
"I started touring, and I got friendly with the girls," Avila said. "That made it easier for me to decide. It's a really small school, like a 12-to-1 [student-to-teacher] ratio. I'd rather go to a small college than big."
Avila said she plans to study physical therapy at Hillsdale.
Less than 12 hours later, Avila was set to line up for the Lady Chicks in their opening game of the Chickasha Inivitational at Hampton Field. The alignment of signing day and game day was on purpose, she said.
"I wanted to set it on this day," she said. "It's a tournament, it's a game day, and it'll pump me up. Hopefully we get that win tonight."