Lexi Valenti is one of the top soccer players in the state in the 2A conference. She has a talent for the game, but it’s her fierce competitiveness that has pushed her to the top. Last season, as a junior, she was named to the All-County, All-Conference, and All-Region teams.
Like so many of her teammates, Lexi started at about 5 years old, playing in the recreational league. She said her love for the game has developed over the years.
“I’ve been playing soccer for so long and I’m best at it,” she stated. “My dad is my coach. He picked up being the coach of our travel team when I was in seventh grade and he’s the assistant coach at the high school. That makes it more enjoyable for me.”
She added that both her parents have supported her along the way in all her endeavors. “They have motivated me beyond belief and supported me in everything I do. My mom is my biggest fan,” she asserted. Her parents are Debbie and Dr. Michael Valenti.
The teenager found it difficult to put into words what it is about the game of soccer that makes it her favorite sport.
“It’s hard to describe, but you get to travel places and see other people and be athletic, and it’s competitive. I love anything competitive. I love the experience of going to places I’ve never been before and meeting new people and then competing against them,” she explained.
Lexi is a center mid-fielder and she described playing her position this way: “It’s an offensive and defensive position. We cover the entire field, and most of the game falls on our shoulders. There’s just the two of us and basically the responsibility for us is to control the ball and control the field so that we’re able to feed it and give it to our strikers so they can score the goal.”
What makes her so good at the game? “I have heart and I want to win every game. I would do anything to win. I would risk anything for our team,“ she insisted.
Even injury? “Yes, ” she admitted, adding, “I try my absolute hardest every game. I give 110 percent every game.”
So why is she so dedicated to this team? “They are not just my team, they are my family. We are always there for each other, on and off the field. We’ve played together since about sixth grade when I joined the travel team,” she asserted.
Lexis said she has learned a lot from her two coaches. “Dad (her travel team coach) is always telling the team to never settle for less than what you know you’re capable of being, and to strive to be the best you can actually be,” the teenager stated.
She said her high school coach, Jeff Smith, wants them to have fun on the soccer field. “He taught us to enjoy what we’re doing and to make the best of it.”
Apparently the dual philosophies are working since the Lady Dark Horses had a successful season last year. They were co-conference champions with Swansboro, a team that had not lost a conference game in six years until Clinton beat them last season, the rising senior stated proudly.
The Clinton High team also made it into the state tournament. “We didn’t go as far as we had hoped to in the playoffs, but we have the capabilities to be state champions this season if we work really hard at it,” she insisted.
Lexi said her best memory from last season was the 2-0 win over Swansboro. “That win gave our whole team inspiration; you could see it on everyone’s face. We were so excited and so ready to take the next step and win the whole conference. Yes, that was definitely my best memory,” she recalled.
When she isn’t practicing for soccer, the rising senior is at a dance lesson (an activity in which she’s taken part since the tender age of 3) or competing in cross country or swim. She joined those teams as a freshman.
“Swimming is more of a hobby sport and it helps me stay in shape,” she admitted.
As for cross country, it is a 5K run at every meet. “It’s like swimming, too. You compete as a team, but also as an individual,“ she explained.
“My 5K is about 20 minutes and some change,” she added.
Lexi was 12th in the conference her sophomore year in cross country. She didn’t place this year due to a foot injury.
“I couldn’t run as much this year because of injuries. I messed up my foot in a soccer game. I don’t even know what it was. I think I sprained something, and my dad just told me I couldn’t run. It doesn’t bother me now,” she said.
The best thing about being on the cross country team, according to Lexi, is Coach Rhonda Davis. “I love my coach, Ms. Davis. She’s really, really funny and she makes running fun for us.”
During the summer break, Lexi is working at a restaurant at the beach waiting tables and hosting.
During her off hours, she likes to surf and take pictures. “Mostly, I surf for a while and then I stop and take pictures of everyone else surfing,” she said, laughing.
During the school year, she referees soccer matches for the recreation department. “I’ve been doing that since I was 13 years old. My favorite age group is the 7-8 year old girls. I like to watch them start off playing and watch them grow and see how each of them get better every year,” she explained.
As for her post-high school ambitions, Lexi wants to go into the medical field.
“I’ll probably wind up going to UNC-Chapel Hill in pre-med,” she stated.
“I want to become an orthopedic surgeon. One of my family’s best friends is an orthopedic surgeon and my dad has brought me in to surgery before so I’ve watched a few surgeries. I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” she insisted. “I basically fell in love with it. So I’m definitely considering something in the medical field.”
She said she would like to play soccer in college, but just for the fun of it, and not on division team. “It’s more than a hobby. Right now it’s my passion, but just for high school,” she said.