Center midfielder-center back Sophia Mullins, a two-year starter for the Bangor High School soccer team, will be playing in Spain this coming season.
Mullins will attend the Global Premier Soccer International Academy in Valencia and will take online classes through the American-based U.S. Performance Academy.
She plans to return to Bangor for her senior season.
Mullins is the second starter in as many years to leave the Bangor team to play at a higher level. All-State and All-Region midfielder Eliza Jansujwicz spent last fall playing for the United States Soccer Girls Development Academy’s Under-17 team based in Epping, New Hampshire.
She continued to attend Bangor High School and she could return to play her senior season for the Rams.
Mullins first visited Spain with her parents, father Dennis and mother Ashley, last August when they accompanied the Husson University men’s soccer team on its trip to the country as part of its preseason training.
Dennis Mullins is an assistant coach at Husson.
GPS Maine, Sophia Mullins’ Portland-based club team, had sent out an email to see whether any members were interested in attending the newly formed GPS Academy in Spain.
“When we went in August, I loved it, and my dad said, ‘Let’s take a look into [the academy] just for fun.’ And now I’m [going],” Sophia said.
She returned to Valencia in February with her parents for a vacation camp. She got to see the facilities and play with some of the teams.
“I fell in love with it,” Sophia said.
She will be playing with girls from all over the world.
“It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I couldn’t pass it up,” Mullins said.
She said the experience will help her improve as a player while exposing her to a new culture, a new language.
“It’s kind of like a new start before I go to college, which is nice. I’ll be able to get it under my belt,” she added.
Mullins said she will miss playing with her Bangor High teammates, especially the seniors, but she admitted that the decision wasn’t a difficult one.
“Opportunity itself kind of overtook everything. It’s going to be worth it,” Mullins said.
She anticipates coming back for her senior season as a much better player.
Mullins has posted one goal and six assists in two seasons with the Rams.
“Maybe I’ll score a lot of goals my senior year, That would be nice,” she said.
Mullins begin preseason on Aug. 1 and Global Premier Soccer’s training sessions will be held under the umbrella of the Valencia Football Club, which has professional teams in Spain’s top leagues, La Liga (men) and the Iberdrola League (women).
Once school begins in September, Mullins will have practices and games in the mornings and school from 2 to 7 p.m. There may also be games or practices after school.
She will play for the Academy team and also will compete for a local Spanish team.
Joe Johnson, who recently retired as the Bangor coach and has been replaced by Andrew Varisco, called Mullins a “talented player who you could plug into a lot of places.”
The 5-foot-4 Mullins said she is thankful to Johnson for using her at a lot of different positions.
“He considered me a versatile player and by playing me in different positions, it very much improved my playing ability. I saw a lot of different angles,” said Mullins, who wants to play college soccer.
Dennis Mullins said Sophia will benefit not only developing her soccer skills, but learning a new language and having a wonderful cultural experience.
“When you consider everything she is going to get out of it, it’s worth it,” he said of the cost.