Former Franklin and Middle Tennessee star Peyton DePriest achieved a lifelong dream this summer when she signed with AS Saint-Etienne of D1 Feminine, the top-flight women's soccer league in France.
The forward achieved historic success during her career at MT, winning the Conference USA Player of the Year in 2018 and the C-USA Offensive Player of the Year three times, earning Academic All-American status twice, and becoming both the conference and the Blue Raiders' all-time career goals leader with 58.
At Franklin, DePriest was a Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year finalist, and All-State selection, and a the District Offensive MVP as a senior when she scored 29 goals and tallied 11 assists.
The Home Page caught up with DePriest all the way from France before her first professional season starts.
This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
HP: What’s it feel like to have signed a pro contract and have all these years of hard work pay off?
DePriest: It truly is, as cliche as it sounds, like a dream come true for me. As a little kid, especially as a young girl, I always dreamt about being a professional soccer player. I'm lucky that I had two parents that encouraged me to never give up on that. When I finally signed my contract, it was like reaching a childhood dream that I didn't think was possible until I made it to college and had the right people in my corner. It was very overwhelming for good reasons.
HP: What’s it like to represent MTSU and Franklin at the highest level?
DePriest: It's been awhile since I've been a part of the Franklin community, but I'm proud to have grown up there. I think it's a good way that I can represent my hometown, a place that grew me into the person I am now, that helped shape me. I'm grateful for the opportunity to represent MTSU and Franklin in this situation.
HP: Can you give us an update on where you are now and what's next?
DePriest: I'm in St. Etienne, France right now. It's about an hour south of Lyon. I'm starting my second week of an eight-week preseason. My season won't officially start until September. We'll have a nine-month season. I'll have a short break in December, and then I'll come back and continue all the way until May. Right now I'm just trying to get as fit as I can be, as healthy as I can be, and get to know the team as much as I can before the season starts.
HP: How has the transition gone from living in Tennessee to living in France?
DePriest: It has been very different. I knew there were going to be a lot of changes at once. I was prepared for that, but there's many things that they do differently than America and that they do differently than in college. I've had to adjust very quickly to their way of life. I think I'm only one out of two on the whole roster who is on their first contract. Everyone else is much older and have lived this lifestyle for a few years. I'm just trying to lean on the good people around me here to help me manage all of the changes. I’m grateful for them.
HP: Your career at MTSU was full of accolades and broken records, what was it like to reflect back on that success signing this contract?
DePriest: It was rewarding on a personal level, for sure. I's like the turning of a page in my book. I thought I would be done after college. My childhood dreams didn't always seem realistic where I was, being at a mid-major. I didn't know what opportunities I would have afterwards. But like I said, I had the right people in my corner, and I truly dedicated my life to the MTSU soccer program and being a student for the last five years. So, it's internally rewarding to see my hard work pay off. I was lucky to have a head coach that was interested in helping me, and he got me a lot of contacts to put me in this position. It's a nice memory now to look back and see that my hard work was worth it. Of course, I still feel a piece is lacking because I never won a conference championship with MTSU. But on a personal level, I feel a sense of satisfaction to know I've gotten to this point.
HP: Is there one thing you’re remember the most from your time at MTSU?
DePriest: I think the soccer is obvious, but one thing that I truly valued at MTSU was my growth as a person and as a teammate. Learning the value of communication with everyone because people just have different communication styles. The value of the relationships that you build in sports is probably the biggest thing I'll take away from my time at MTSU. As much as I'm so happy and excited to play soccer in France, I'm equally as excited to form relationships and hopefully grow from my experiences.
HP: Is there anything from your time at Franklin that you will carry with you?
DePriest: I learned a lot from Mike [Burgoyne], and we still keep in touch. He's a wonderful person, and he was a great coach for me during my teenage years. I remember the big soccer moments, but I truly remember the people that left the biggest impact on me there. My coaches Mike and Natalie, and my travel coaches too, they helped shape me into the leader I am.
HP: You have scored a lot of goals during your career. What is your key to finding the back of the net so often?
DePriest: For me the big one was overcoming adversity. After my freshman year, I was usually a target on the field, so I constantly had to try different things. The people around me on the field, they helped put me in the right spots at the right time. I also had to not let people get the best of me on the mental side of it. Keeping my composure, taking advantage of the few chances I get each game, and not becoming too obsessed with the missed chances. As a forward, you have to let go of those things quickly or it will ruin your game.