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SA's All-Star trio: Gardner says Lady Vols important part of soccer program

October 9, 2012

Starkville Academy's Tiffany Huddleston, right, looks to secure the soccer ball during the season. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

The Starkville Academy girls soccer team had a strong senior class.

When the trio of Tiffany Huddleston, Tiffany Evans and Jessica Dennis were chosen to represent the Lady Volunteers in today's Mississippi Association of Independent Schools All-Star Game, it indicates the strong leadership that was available to coach Robert Gardner last season.

"In my time here, I don't ever think we've had more than one to go and represent the program," Gardner said. "Having three just solidifies their importance. We knew how important they were to the program. It's pretty obvious how much they meant to us, not just this year, but the three years that I've coached them. I know they had a certain importance before the time I was here."

The All-Star match is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Jackson Prep.

Huddleston, a Mississippi State commitment, still plans to sign with the Bulldogs in the spring.

When that happens, Gardner said that will be another milestone for the program.

It was Huddleston's attitude that Gardner said was a positive force for Starkville Academy.

"Her attitude is what separates her from the rest," Gardner said. "When times weren't easy this year for a player of her quality, it would have been easy for her to shut down. She is a great leader because of her attitude."

As far as Evans, Gardner liked the work ethic she gave the Lady Vols.

"She is an all-around good kid and a good soccer player as well," Gardner said. "She has improved a ton in the past couple of years. It's her willingness to learn and she's a very teachable soccer player. I've enjoyed watching her develop during the last three seasons."

When it comes to a definition of a team-player, Gardner said SA had it in Dennis.

"She has a very team-oriented thought process," Gardner said. "She is first and foremost about the team and asks what do we need to do for the team to benefit. She is that type of person and character. That is something I've always respected."

Huddleston, Evans and Dennis helped the Lady Vols reach the playoffs last season where they were eliminated in the first round by Pillow Academy.

Gardner said playing in the All-Star Game helps put finishing touches on a nice career for each.

"It's nice for them to get that opportunity in Jackson and enjoy the time and it's certainly special to them and something they will be able to appreciate years down the road.

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