DORSET — The daily commute from Center Rutland to the bucolic Long Trail School campus has been worth every mile, every pothole, for Molly Sanderson.
There have been no potholes in Sanderson’s academic and athletic career at LTS. It has been one smooth ride for the senior.
“I came out of my shell here. I saw who my true self was,” she said. “This was definitely the best place for me academically, athletically and socially.”
She has been a prolific scorer for the girls soccer team over her four years.
She rang up 14 goals as a sophomore, 21 as a junior and 15 during the COVID-shortened season that saw the Mountain Lions play only 10 games.
Kevin Murphy was her coach those three seasons and saw tremendous growth in Sanderson each year.
The highlight in that sport came her sophomore season when she scored the winning goal in driving snow in overtime of a quarterfinal game at Danville, the score coming just in time to avoid the dreaded penalty kick tiebreaker format.
“She had missed a shot just before the overtime almost from point-blank range and came off the field in tears,” Murphy said. “I told her that this was just another opportunity and she went out there and scored the winning goal.”
But Murphy was more amazed by another goal she scored against West Rutland, on a day when she put three in the net.
“She came down the middle, went to left side, beat a defender and then scored on a shot where she had almost no angle,” Murphy said.
Murphy appreciated Sanderson from the beginning.
“When I came here, Molly and her teammates made it so easy,” Murphy said. “They all worked so hard and Molly’s attitude was refreshing and she is so unassuming.”
“I came to Long Trail because my brother (Eli) started here in sixth grade. He had a great experience,” Sanderson said.
She grew up in Proctor before moving to Center Rutland, playing her early soccer with Proctor Elementary School teammates.
Her freshman year, she road a bus to LTS each day but then her mother began working at Long Trail and she appreciates the convenience of riding with her now.
“Soccer is my favorite sport,” she said.
“She probably had about 80% of our goals,” Murphy said.
Playing against her former classmates when the Mountain Lions clashed with Proctor was always a special experience for Sanderson.
“I always looked up to the Proctor team. It was very intimidating playing against them,” she said. “This senior year, it was great seeing all of them one last time.”
Now, a new sports has opened up for her. This winter the Mountain Lions embark on their first season of varsity girls basketball.
She has not played a lot of basketball but coach Sean Dillon has been impressed by her athleticism and ability to grasp the game.
“I am really excited about basketball. I’m not the best but I like team sports,” Sanderson said.
She has plans to become an athletic trainer. Her top choice for college is Syracuse.
Another school high on the list is Endicott, an NCAA Division III school in Beverley, Massachusetts. That could present the possibility of playing soccer. She was invited to a meeting with the soccer coach there.
“When I was younger I wanted to be in the medical field. I put two and two together and saw athletic training as a way to combine both things that I love,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson is one of those high school students who knows the direction she wants to take after graduating.
She is elated the path began at Long Trail School.