By: Bailee Stump
MTN Sports Reporter
Eleanor Gough is a long way from home. Gough was born September 26, 2001, in Guildford, United Kingdom, and raised in Milton Keynes, England. She moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 2020 to study economics and play soccer. The Middle Tennessee sophomore feels that her move across the world is for the best when it comes to her future and development in athletics.
“It’s America. It’s the American dream,” said Gough. “Business is the best in the world so especially as a young girl I'm trying to find my way.”
Her soccer career started at the age of four playing for a boys’ team until she was picked up by the MK Dons RTC Academy at the age of seven. She won several awards with the Academy like the MK Dons Womens Young Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019, as well as winning the School County Cup two years straight while attending Redbourne Upper School.
Gough created a highlight video and sent it out to many universities in hopes of finding somewhere to further her education and soccer career. Middle Tennessee State University ended up being a great fit for many reasons.
“I had an agent who helped me, and we sent out the video to a lot of coaches and Ashton [Rhoden] was a coach that got in touch, and I really liked him. I came out and visited. I met the girls and stayed with them overnight,” said Gough. ”I visited a few other universities, but to be fair I like Murfreesboro and I like being close to Nashville. There's a lot going on and I think it's an up-and-coming town. I love where I live, and I love my major. I have good friends here, so it just felt like the right fit.”
The girls on the Middle Tennessee women’s soccer program took Gough in under their wing and made sure she felt at home.
“I love all the girls. They’ve all been so welcoming,” said Gough. “I have thanksgiving with them. I go back for summer with them to their families, which is nice.”
Ashton Rhoden, head coach of the Middle Tennessee women’s soccer program, explained that Gough stood out for her abilities on the field, as well as who she is as a person.
“She certainly fits the style of play that we have here. Shes a very strong technical player with a solid soccer IQ. Those are things that we look for in the position she plays, and then obviously after multiple conversations realizing that she’s a very good person, you know, with good values,” said Rhoden. “It fit with what we look for in players. Her being from the UK really didn’t matter, it was just about her being a quality soccer player and a quality person.”
The program holds their players to high expectations when it comes to behavior on and off the field, and it shows. The Middle Tennessee women’s soccer program was awarded the 2021 United Soccer Coaches College Team Ethics & Sportsmanship Bronze Award in March.
Gough hopes to continue to play even after graduating from Middle Tennessee.
“Soccer is a big part of my life,” said Gough. “I watch it, I read it, I eat, sleep, and breathe it so I’d like to keep that going through my career.”