Athlete of the Month: Shari Atkins sends Lady Bulls to Ridley


John Bowers

Atkins takes the ball forward in a state quarterfinal matchup against North Harford. She scored the game winner in overtime to settle the game at three-to-two.

Jake Epstein, Content Editor

On a chilly November night in Silver Spring, the girls’ soccer team found themselves in a deadlock with the defending 2A state champions in Calvert High School. With 24 minutes remaining, the Lady Bulls drew a free kick in a dangerous position. Shari Atkins (’23) set the ball in her desired spot, took a deep breath, and lined up in preparation. Atkins executed a calm runup before firing the ball beyond the Calvert keeper’s grasp and into the top right corner.  

Atkins’ goal ended up being the decider in a one-nil victory, marking her second straight playoff game with the game-winning tally. As a result of her 56th minute heroics, the Lady Bulls head to their first state title game since 2017, where they will face Glenelg.  

Atkins is not the typical first year varsity athlete. She played for the Baltimore Armour Girls’ Academy (GA) team her freshman and sophomore years, which meant she wasn’t allowed to play high school soccer. Atkins switched over to the Pipeline 2005 ECNL squad this season, which, much to the delight of head coach Brad Duvall, meant she was able to suit up for the Lady Bulls for the first time.  

“When I played for the academy, practices were two to three times a week with one game on Saturday, but high school has six practices a week and two games a week,” Atkins said. “It can be really hard on your body.” 

Such a jam-packed schedule can seem daunting to any athlete, especially a first-year varsity player, but the star-forward is no stranger to hard work. Atkins suffered a torn ACL two summers ago, which required months of determination and grit to return to the field.  

“I needed six months of PT, [while] the rest was me working out on my own for another six months before I could play again,” Atkins said. “There’s still things I have to do to make sure my knee stays strong.”  

Such a catastrophic injury caused Atkins to alter her playing style. The forward, who used to lean heavily on her speed, spent countless hours working at the turf to develop other areas of her game. 

“I rely a lot more on my feet and passing ability,” Atkins said.  

It appears her training paid major dividends this season. Atkins received a first-team all-county nod, which is an award selected by the area’s coaches, and has the Lady Bulls one game away from a state title.  

However, Atkins’ work is not limited to the soccer field, as she takes three AP courses: Spanish 5, English Language and Composition, and Calculus AB. Such a challenging course load, coupled with her soccer responsibilities is a lot to manage, but Atkins makes sure to ask a lot of questions and get her work done whenever she can find time.  

Atkins aspires to play for the George Washington University Colonials, which would make her the second of her siblings to play an NCAA Division One Sport, following her brother, Billy Atkins, who plays quarterback for James Madison University. Make sure to watch her and the Lady Bulls attempt to win a state championship at 2:30 at Loyola University on Saturday Nov. 20.