Hickory Ridge soccer star Christine Lutz did not hesitate when deciding whether she should graduate early to attend Kentucky on a soccer scholarship.
"I never loved high school, so it's not like I care about missing out on that part of my high school experience," she said.
Christine - the daughter of Janet and Bobby Lutz, the Charlotte 49ers men's basketball head coach - only needed four credits to graduate, so she decided that it would be better for her soccer career if she enrolled in college a semester early.
"I just wanted to go ahead and start practicing and to get into the school so that way when I got there my freshman year I wouldn't be overwhelmed," she said.
The 5-foot-5 all-state midfielder said that by enrolling at Kentucky a semester early she will be able to adjust her body to college athletics. She said one of the biggest transitions will be adjusting to the speed of play of the college game
Christine, 18, said she hopes that by getting some experience under her belt in the spring she'll be able to start contributing right away.
"Hopefully it'll prepare me to be able to play more and to even start," she said. "I just want to do well in my games."
Her father said that he often sees the transition from high school to college athletics as part of his job, so he said he thinks Christine's mentality will pay off.
"Without a doubt, athletically this was the best decision she could've possibly made because she will get the training and play in spring practice," he said. "She'll be well ahead of the rigors of being a college athlete."
But Bobby admits that he has mixed emotions about his youngest daughter leaving home a semester early.
"I'm happy for her, but in some ways I hate to see her give up the last half of her senior year in high school," he said. "But it was totally her decision, and I think that it shows her maturity, her desire and her passion for achieving her goal - to be an impact collegiate soccer player."
Christine, who wants to study business management at Kentucky, said she decided to become a Wildcat because of her relationship with their head coach, Jon Lipsitz.
Christine began to work with Lipsitz, who was UNC Charlotte's coach for four years before leaving for Lexington this past season, when he coached her as part as the N.C. Youth Soccer Association's Olympic Development Program three years ago.
"I get along well with the coach, and the way he coaches fits the way that I play," Christine said. "I felt like being with him was the best fit for me, and where I'd be most comfortable."
Bobby, who said he and his wife let Christine to be charge of her recruitment, said he thinks his daughter made a good decision by picking Kentucky - especially with how well she knew the coach.
"The school is obviously important, but the most important thing is to go play for a coach that you know and values you," he said.
To get ready for her transition, Christine has been working out with a trainer three times a week and training individually to stay fit.
"I'm working on building up my endurance level because when you go to college starting the spring semester, the first six weeks is just all fitness work, and I want to be prepared for that," she said.
Christine said her parents put her and her sister in "every rec league that there was." That's how she discovered soccer.
"I just always had sports around me since I was born, so I just found the one that I liked the most and stuck with it," she said.
Last year at Hickory Ridge, Christine led the Ragin' Bulls to the 3A regional semifinals. During the playoffs, Christine led the team with seven goals.
Christine was also all-conference in tennis last year, finishing the season in the state's final 16. She decided not to play this season to focus her efforts on soccer.
Her father said that he is proud of both of his daughters and that he is equally happy that both of them have exceeded academically as well as athletically.
Christine is fourth in her class at Hickory Ridge and was class president her first three years of high school. She did not run for class president this year because she knew she would be graduating early.
Bobby said his oldest daughter, Natalie, will be graduating early from the University of Florida with a 4.0 GPA to attend graduate school.
During Christine's seven-year stint with the 91 Charlotte Soccer Club, she won three NCYSA State Cup championships - the latest coming in 2007. She said that winning those championships has been the highlight of her athletic career thus far.
"We worked all year to try to win a championship, and we did it three times, so I'm pretty proud of that," she said.
Christine said that the one thing she is nervous about as she embarks on her college career is how her parents will handle her departure from home.
"I'm close with my parents, and I spend a lot of time with my family, so I think that they are nervous," she said. "But I think they'll be OK."