Ferguson signs with Martin Methodist College
Marshall County is well-known around the state for historically dominant football and boys and girls basketball teams, sending a large amount of those players to play at the next level following graduation.
But for the third time in the past three years, a member of the girls’ soccer squad has committed to play at the next level when Patience Ferguson signed a Letter of Intent to play at National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) powerhouse Martin Methodist College.
The Tigerettes’ leading scorer for the past three seasons, Ferguson also garnered an offer from second-year junior college program Columbia State Community College, but the overall feel of Martin Methodist as a whole led the Marshall County senior to choose the RedHawks.
“Martin Methodist was my choice because I fell in love with their campus and how well they make sure their athletes take care of their academics," Ferguson explained. “I worked so hard for many years to get to this point.”
“I always strived to work the hardest and do the best I could every year to better myself and help my team as well. I always pushed everyone the best I could as well as pushing myself every single day. "
Martin Methodist, located a short drive away at Pulaski (population 7,870), was established in 1870 and has just over 1,100 students but the tiny co-ed, Liberal Arts College is a NAIA powerhouse on the soccer field.
Following a longtime membership in the Trans South Conference the RedHawks joined the Southern States Athletic Conference, which features teams from Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana for the start of the 2013 season.
Martin Methodist is the ninth smallest school out of the 12 member schools with Middle Georgia State University (7,796) being the largest and Blue Mountain College in Mississippi being the smallest with just 505 students.
The RedHawks brought a ton of notoriety to the conference, having won nine straight Trans South Conference championships from 2004-2012, which included two NAIA national championships in 2005 and 2007 that also featured two national player of the year awards (05,07) and 24 NAIA All-Americans.
The RedHawks have not missed a beat playing in the SSAC, making the national NAIA round of 16 in every season, including the final eight in 2017.
Ferguson joins a squad that finished the 2018 season with a 19-1-2 record with an only loss being a close 2-0 loss against second-ranked William Carey.
The RedHawks avenged that loss by defeating William Carey 2-1 in the championship game of the SSAC Tournament before being upset by #21 Midland University (14-2-3) on penalty kicks in the round of 16 in the NAIA National Tournament.
A well-established scorer at Marshall County, Ferguson will fit right in at Martin Methodist, where the RedHawks were the second highest scoring team in the nation.
"Patience has a tremendous work ethic and a great attitude," MCHS coach Mark Redferrin said. "She has a high motivation level to succeed and improve her game and is very coachable."
"She takes instruction well and applies it quickly," Redferrin added. "She will transition quickly and effectively to the demands of the college game."
But just like most players making the transition to the college game, Ferguson realizes there will be a learning curve both on and off of the pitch.
"My first year of soccer I’m expecting to learn the new team and to learn new skills," Ferguson offered. "I expect to learn everything I can to be a better player."
"Some challenges I expect to face are learning how to play soccer at a collegiate level," Ferguson continued. "I’m bringing dedication and work ethic to the team."
Although the Tigerettes won just a handful of matches in 2018, Ferguson has been around for 20 wins over the past four seasons, including being a key contributor of arguably the best team in school history when the 2015 squad finished with a 13-4 record following a school record 11-game winning streak to start the season.
"I hope with going to the next level with soccer it will inspire other young players to want to play further than high school," Ferguson said. "I hope to inspire those who do not believe in themselves as much as they should. Anyone can make it and you get out what you put in is what coach Redferrin always told me."
Coach Redferrin, whose daughter Abbey is a top player and rising senior on the squad at Freed-Hardeman in West Tennessee, realizes that having Patience, Abbey and former Tigerette Yesenia Eugenia, who will be a rising senior at Martin Methodist, representing both the school and the team at the college level can only help the program.
"It is very rewarding to see players who are willing to work hard and improve themselves be rewarded with an opportunity to play at the next level and Patience is no exception," Redferrin pointed out. "Our program has been fortunate to send several players to college to continue their playing careers and each time we do it inspires younger players to do the same."
"They see a teammate accomplish something great and they know it's possible for them too," Redferrin said. "They just have to be willing to put in the work to get there."
And aside from the actual games, sometimes the memories you make with the friends in the moments in between are the moments that are remembered the most.
"My absolute favorite memory from playing for the Tigerettes were the bus rides," Ferguson recalled. "Going to and coming back from games was always a great bonding time with the girls."
"I formed many great friendships with girls from my freshman year to my senior year and many were on bus rides," Ferguson added. "I’m definitely going to miss them, but cannot wait for more of those moments (at Martin Methodist)."