Regis University coach J.B. Belzer started recruiting Steamboat Springs senior Kelly Labor more than a year ago.
On Wednesday, Labor signed a national letter of intent to attend Regis, in Denver, and play women's soccer for the highly successful Rangers program.
"We are extremely excited," Belzer said. "We definitely anticipate her to compete for a starting role. We lost a 31-goal scorer, so we need some help putting the ball in the back of the net, and she is capable of doing that."
Labor is a three-time first team All-League selection and the two-time player of the year in the Western Slope League. Her senior season with the Sailors begins in three weeks.
Labor also played club soccer in Steamboat and Denver and participated in the Olympic Development Program for four years.
Labor moved to Steamboat in fourth grade and started playing soccer with many of the same girls who play for the Sailors.
"We had a great team," she said. "That got me having a lot of fun."
The success in elementary school started Labor thinking about playing in college, said her parents, Doug and Mary Labor. Their daughter became more serious about the idea as she grew older.
Labor was recruited by programs outside Colorado, but she wanted to stay closer to home. She decided on Regis instead of rival Metro State University and the University of Colorado, where she could have been part of a Division I program.
"This will be four years of competitive playing," Labor said. "CU wasn't a guarantee that I would play much, if at all, my freshman year."
The academic reputation of Regis sealed the decision.
Regis is a Division II school and competes in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. In 2005, the Rangers went 17-6-1 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament but lost to Metro State, which went on to win the Division II National Championship.
"I'll be playing for something," Labor said. "That was a big thing."
Labor isn't sure what she will major in but is considering psychology and sports science. She is a student trainer at the high school.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org