Heber soccer seniors Peyton Vowels and Hayden Dearmond will continue their careers at the next level after signing with the Central Baptist College Mustangs in Conway late last week.
Vowels and Dearmond, integral cogs in the Panthers' midfield this season, have played together since youth leagues and onto the club level at Arkansas United, a Little Rock-based travel team.
Heber head coach Jay Bishop is quick to credit the pair's youth coaches and parenting for their success.
“The fact that these guys are playing in college is more a testament to youth coaching and development over the course of a lifetime than anything,” said Bishop. “You start at four or five years old, your family makes a commitment to keep you in it, and you play summer travel ball like those guys have done...all the credit goes to the youth coaches and parents for devoting the time and energy involved in giving these guys a platform to play.”
Dearmond, a left-footed midfielder, has been a vocal leader on the pitch for the Panthers.
“With Hayden, they're getting an incredible competitor and a kid who absolutely hates to lose,” said Bishop. “When he says things, guys tend to listen.”
Justin Hawkins, director of coaching at Arkansas United, spoke highly of Dearmond's versatility.
“Hayden is a really versatile player who uses both feet, left and right, and plays multiple positions both in club and in high school,” said Hawkins. “I think a player like that who's well-rounded and does multiple things is a guy that they can bring in at the college-level and, if he catches up to the speed of play quickly, they have multiple places they can plug him in.”
Vowels, a distributor in the midfielder for the Panthers, will likely play somewhere on the left side of the field for the CBC Mustangs, either at midfield or wingback, Hawkins said.
“They've pegged Peyton to play either as a left defender or a left midfielder,” said Hawkins, who coached CBC soccer for nine years. “He's fast for the high school game, but he's extremely fast for the college game as well, and the coaches told me directly that's something they're excited about. They feel like he can come in and contribute in either of those positions.”
Heber Springs, currently rich with a roster of talented seniors, has zero juniors returning to the team next year. Bishop said the example of Vowels and Dearmond can be a valuable recruiting tool for the Panthers.
“I think it's important. We're trying to build something here and we won't have any seniors next year as it looks right now,” said Bishop. “I have to be able to communicate and connect with kids in the 8th grade now and kids even younger than that.”
“Being able to have examples of kids that have come up through Heber Springs – not just this program but the entire Heber Springs youth soccer program – and let kids see potentially where that can lead...it's really important.”
Central Baptist College competes in the American Midwest Conference of the National Assocation of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).