VAN ALSTYNE — The Panthers own Emme` Fernandez signed to play soccer at the beautiful University of Montana, officially becoming a Grizzly on Nov. 27.

A Division I program, the Grizzlies have been competitive through the programs 24-year history. Recently finishing 7-9-6 on the 2018 season, they also made an appearance in the NCAA tournament where they were beat out by Washington State.

Fernandez hopes to contribute to this tradition of success and hoping to play at forward, but she has been taught and has the athletic ability to be impactful anywhere on the field. This wide range of ability has been developed for quite sometime, as soccer has been ever-present in Fernandez’s life.

“I’ve been playing soccer since I’ve been able to walk,” Fernandez said, “I started playing in the Van Alstyne recreational league when I was little, my best friends dad was my coach, and ever since that we’ve both kind of decided that this is something we want to keep doing for as long as we can… It’s an amazing sport, I love it.”

The decision to sign with Montana came to Fernandez for multiple reasons — the credibility of the program and the prestige of the academics to name a few. However, it was a more unique reason that finally made up her mind.

“In the seventh or eighth grade I watched a movie called A River Runs Through It,” Fernandez explained, “and the scenery in that movie is absolutely gorgeous, so ever since I’ve watched that movie I’ve always wanted to live there… then the opportunity came along to play soccer there, so putting the two together just made sense.”

Fernandez is hoping to get into animal physical therapy after her four years at Montana, growing up with horses, she has always had a love for working with animals and with a fantastic pre-veterinary program and physical education program, she will be in a great position to start her career.

Fernandez has plenty of appreciation for the ways her coaches and the faculty at Van Alstyne have helped her realize this dream, as well as thanking her coach for all the hard times.

“My coaches have all been tough, they can be very hard on you,” Fernandez said, “but I’m thankful they were, because if they hadn’t helped build up my mental strength as well as my ability to play, there’s no way I would have been able to play college soccer. I’m beyond thankful for how they pushed me and supported me throughout my career, I will carry the lessons they have taught me as I start this next chapter.”