By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Senior Griffen Locke is excited about playing soccer at the collegiate level.
That doesn’t mean Locke, who has been a successful golfer, is ready to throw away his clubs.
“I look at it like that you can only play soccer for so long until it ends,” he said. “And golf, you can play until you’re dead almost. It’s a lifetime sport. I’m looking to finish my soccer years up, and then start my golf life.”
Locke, a sweeper for the Eagles, signed Thursday at Joplin High School’s 11-12 campus to play soccer at Neosho County Community College in Chanute, Kan.
“I like the community up there,” Locke said. “I like the campus. It seems like a good school, and I heard good things about it. Soccer-wise the stats were good up there, and I heard they were a pretty solid team. I played with the guys a few times, and I really liked it. I’m excited to get up there and start playing.”
Locke helped the Eagles soccer team to a 21-3-1 record and a Class 3 district runner-up finish this past season. He was a key part of a defense that allowed only 16 goals.
Locke will join a Neosho County squad that finished 7-7-2 overall and 2-6-2 in the Jayhawk Conference this past fall.
“He’s been the MVP of the Ozark Conference last year and was first team the last couple of years,” Joplin soccer coach Ed Miller said. “He’s a solid defender. He’s got the height. He’s got a powerful left foot and right foot. He’s got all the tools. I think he’s well prepared, and I think he can have a lot of success at the next level.”
Locke was one of Joplin’s leading golfers this past spring, winning the Joplin Invitational with a 1-over 73. He fell one stroke shy from making the state tournament when he shot an 84 at sectionals in Springfield.
“Golf is a big part of my life,” Locke said. “Sports are a big part of my life. I play golf just as much as I play soccer. I just didn’t want to give up on soccer yet. I just wanted to play a few more years.”
Neosho County doesn’t have a golf program, but he plans on continuing to play in his spare time.
“They have golf courses around, so I’m just going to be practicing on my own after soccer season is done,” he said.