Since she was a little girl, Patricia Cartwright has dreamed of someday playing college soccer.
The 17-year-old Cartwright, a senior at Thomson High School, is now destined to do just that after signing with Jackson State University at the school on March 4.
"This is like a dream come true to me," said Cartwright, the daughter of Del Cartwright, of Thomson. "I've wanted to play college soccer since I was a little girl."
She began her love for the sport at the age of 5, while living in Garland, Texas -- a city whose school district consists of eight high schools -- each one with between 2,000 and 2,500 students.
Prior to her family moving to Thomson, Cartwright was a starting midfielder on the girls' varsity soccer team at Garland High School.
Though McDuffie County only has one high school, Cartwright has adjusted well to her new school and made lots of friends.
"Thomson is a very unique place, because of its friendly people," said Cartwright. "Everybody has treated me so nice and welcomed me with open arms and hearts."
As for the scholarship that she will be receiving from Jackson State University, Cartwright, who already is showcasing her talent with the Lady Bulldogs, said she was excited about playing college soccer there.
"The coach there is real open-minded and I like that a lot," added Cartwright. "I think we're going to do well in my first season there. I went on the campus for a visit and the campus is just beautiful. I really liked it. And the field is just amazing with the big lights and all the bleachers. And they have a new fitness center, which I can't wait to see. I fell in love with it."
Cartwright said she met the Jackson State players "and they were really friendly."
At Thomson, Cartwright is the captain of the team.
"That's a big thing," she said.
Cartwright's father said when his children were small, he dreamed of them earning a scholarship.
"Now that it happened, it's kind of surreal," he said.
Thomson girls' soccer head coach Jessica Ruark is pleased that one of her star players has received a scholarship.
"I'm so proud of her," said coach Ruark. It's a privilege to have her here. She's a member of the family. I'd heard a lot about her before she started."
Cartwright, who is an A student and hopes to graduate from Thomson High School as one of the honors students, plans to major in psychology.
"I'd like to work towards my doctorate degree," she said.
As for the Thomson soccer season, she believes the team will turn things around soon.
"We can bounce back," said Cartwright.
"We've just got to concentrate and work hard."