Photo: Glencoe High School senior Bishop signs a soccer scholarship with Reinhardt University on November 8. Pictured, sitting, from left: brother Colby, mom Lelsi, Laney, dad Rick. Standing, from left: GHS girls soccer coach Craig Smith, Alabama Football Club coach Wes Patridge, GHS girls soccer coach Daniel Cook, Alabama Rush Director of Coaching Bill Martin. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Word on the street has it that Laney Bishop started kicking a soccer ball not long after she learned how to walk.
“I played for my dad and Johnny Lowery in the Coosa League in 2007 (as a three-year old), and I’ve loved soccer ever since then.”
Bishop’s soccer career is not ending anytime soon, as the Glencoe High senior signed with Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play at the next level, and I’m so incredibly grateful to have this opportunity to play for Coach (Andy) Kaplan and Reinhardt University,” she said. “I’d like to thank God for this opportunity to play the sport I love for another four years.
“I’d like to thank my family for supporting me all these years and thank all the coaches and teammates who have encouraged me to be the best player I can be.”
“We’re all very excited to have Laney join our program and help us chase a national championship,” said Kaplan in a statement.
Recognizing their daughter’s skill level and work ethic, dad Rick and mom Lesli had Bishop playing local competitive with Fusion FC in Gadsden starting in fifth grade.
“The great thing about Laney is just how much she loves the game of soccer and how passionate she is about the sport,” said Bill Martin, Director of Coaching at Alabama Rush Soccer in Gadsden who watched Bishop’s development from an early age. “That’s pretty much the highest compliments you can give to a player. This has been a goal for Laney since she started playing, and to see her achieve that goal today is really special. I can’t wait to see her play at the next level.”
After a successful run with Fusion, Bishop played with Birmingham United Soccer Association (BUSA), training with coaches Andrew Brower and Sean Doran. After playing in the 2018 Regional Championships in North Carolina, Bishop transferred to Vestavia Hills Soccer Club (VHSC) and later to Hoover Vestavia Soccer (HVS), playing for Kat Nichols in the South Atlantic RPL and NPL leagues. Bishop also trained with the Captain Elite Program. In 2021, Laney transferred to the Alabama Football Club (AFC) Central 03/04 Southeastern Clubs Champions League (SCCL) team coached by Wes Patridge.
“Laney’s been a real blessing,” said Patridge. “She’s been one of the real impact players on our team. Laney is a very technical, attack-minded player who possesses the vision that you want in an attacking midfielder along with the ability to play equally with both feet at a very high level. Creativity is the name of her game, and she can do so much with the ball at her feet. She’s an awesome kid from a great family, and she’ll do well at Reinhardt.”
Throughout her travel and club career, Bishop has been a part of two Alabama Division 1 state Championships and several D-1 tournament championships with her club teams playing in the southeastern United States. Bishop’s 3v3 team won the Southeast Regional Championships and placed fourth in the 3v3 National Championships played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla.
Bishop, who transferred from Southside prior to her junior year, said that knowing several of her new teammates from club ball helped smooth her transition.
“I was a little scared coming in at first, but everyone welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “Usually teams are set by junior year, but everyone let me be part of the team.”
With Bishop at the striker position, the 2021 Lady Yellow Jackets finished with a 19-2 record and were ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in Class 3A for most of the regular season. Glencoe’s only losses were to then No. 1 ranked Susan Moore and Donoho in the first round of the state playoffs. Bishop’s 30 goals tied the school record for most goals scored in a season, earning her the Golden Boot Award. Bishop’s stellar season led to her being named to the All-State, All-Region and All-County first teams. She also participated in the AHSAA North/South All-Star soccer game in July in Montgomery.
“Everyone at Glencoe is really proud for Laney,” said GHS Principal Wendy Tinker. “We want to wish her luck at the next level, and we’ll always be here for her.”
During her varsity career at Southside and Glencoe, Bishop racked up 51 goals and 22 assists.
“I’ve only had Laney for last season and this season coming up, but it’s been great having here here, and I’m super proud of her,” said Glencoe girls soccer coach Craig Smith. “She’s probably one the hardest-working players I’ve ever had, period, and that includes high school ball, travel ball and club ball. Every rep in practice is exactly what it should be for Laney. She does everything as perfect as she possibly can. She’s always doing what she should be doing, all of the time. That’s going to translate to the college game a whole lot more than anything else. I really feel like she’s going to excel at Reinhardt.”
Bishop, who plans on majoring in biology, will join a Reinhardt program that a top 25 team in the NAIA. The 2021 Lady Eagles are currently 15-2 overall and 10-0 in the Appalachian Athletic Conference. Reinhardt will play for the ACC championship on Saturday, November 13.
“It’s just a great fit for me, personally,” she said. “I loved the coaches and the girls on the team when I went to train with them, and I really like the facilities. Plus, it’s only two hours away from here, so I can come back and visit my family.”