The ‘Yellow Cleats’ Standout
Strother Helps Women’s Soccer to 2 Consecutive NCAA Tournaments
Dashing across youth soccer fields in Tyler wearing yellow cleats is where Chestley Strother’s journey to becoming an all-American for her hometown Patriots began.
“We laugh all the time about the first time I met her,” UT Tyler women’s soccer coach Stefani Webb said. “She was a tiny little thing with yellow shoes. I used to mess with her about her yellow shoes and how she had better be good to be wearing colorful shoes because, back in my day, everyone wore black unless you were absolutely incredible. She would look at me kind of like ‘oh yeah, well check me out, I can wear these’ and then just tear it up.”
After developing her talents on the youth fields and then at Whitehouse High School, Strother made the decision to play for the Patriots, where she established program records with 32 career assists and 86 total points, along with 27 goals, which is the fourth most in program history.
She earned NSCAA All-Region and American Southwest Conference honors as a sophomore, junior and senior before being named an NSCAA All-America and
D3Soccer.com All-America selection in her final season. With Strother’s talent and leadership, the Patriots advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time in back-to-back years and, despite not leaving her hometown, she became one of the most decorated players in the nation.
“A lot of people who are from here say they’re ready to get out of town right after high school and move on to bigger and better things, but this is my home and the place I always wanted to be,” Strother said. “I didn’t need to go anywhere else when there is a great soccer program here that allowed me to compete at a high level with tremendous teammates and coaches. There was never a doubt.”
Webb and Strother have a bond that originated on the youth field and then produced 56 wins in the four seasons that Strother played for the Patriots. She was named the ASC Midfielder of the Year as a senior before garnering All-American accolades. That was a year after she ranked second in the nation with 17 assists and scored eight goals for a team that won the conference championship and went 17-1-2.
“It was an amazing experience that we all shared,” Strother said. “You could really tell from the first day that we loved and cared for each other, and were going to do everything we could to help each other be successful. I don’t think our program has gotten the recognition it deserved until this year, but we worked hard to beat a standard and people started embracing us as a program. We were nationally ranked and made the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. We told ourselves each week that we had to work even harder the next week to keep raising the standard.”
Strother is in the process of finishing her bachelor’s degree, but is also pursuing a professional soccer career. This spring, she joined the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League on an amateur agreement, after earning the opportunity through a tryout/training camp with the professional team.
“She could have played almost anywhere but she chose UT Tyler because she wanted to be great in every aspect of her life and have a chance every year to play for a championship,” Webb said. “That is pretty incredible. We still laugh about her yellow shoes and how ever since she has been trying to prove to me she deserves those shoes. The funny thing is, she really does.”
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