Courteney Gibson paid tribute to the Charlton womenís team after being offered a full scholarship to play soccer and study at Middle Tennessee University, where she will study physics with astronomy.
Courteney has been with the Addicks since under 14 level and last season made the transition from centre of excellence to first team football seamlessly.
After impressing in the reserve team last year, then manager Paul Mortimer gave the winger her first team debut in October during a 3-0 away win over Nottingham Forest.
It is a position the 18-year-old has kept until now, making 26 appearances in all competitions and scoring six goals to date.
She said: “I owe a lot of where I’m at now to Charlton. [CoE] was such a fun time and it was a place where I could go and enjoy my football at a younger age and that’s important.
“Then coming up last season, I had a couple of games in the reserves and Paul called me up and he gave me the game time I needed to adapt and get used to first team football in the National Prem.
“I will be forever grateful for that. Paul gave me the opportunity that every player coming up needs to adapt and then since then I did adapt and it’s gone well.
“I enjoy playing for Charlton at this level. It is a challenge in every game. There are never any easy games and it’s good to have a competitive environment all the time.”
Courteney is the second Charlton player to sign scholarship forms stateside this year following Annabel Prior, who will attend Louisiana Tech.
The opportunity came about due thanks to First Point USA, who sent her details around for Universities to consider.
Courteney was inundated with offers, around 30, and considered Drake University, in Iowa, and Oregon State but felt MT, who play in the Sun-Belt Conference, was the perfect place for her.
“It’s a D1 university and it’s ranked quite highly so it will be a good challenge for me,” she added.
“I joined an agency, First Point USA, and they film you and advertise you out to loads of different Universities in the States and a few came back and wanted to talk to me about offering scholarships.
“I owe a lot to the agency because without them you don’t get the advertising, which would have made it a lot harder.
“I had quite a few schools interested but this was one of the best, I just clicked with the coach and I liked the school so I think it was right for me.
“It’s a good standard and it’s one-touch football so it’s very quick. It’ll be an adaptation for me but hopefully I can go and do it.”
There are currently a number of former Addicks centre of excellence graduates plying their trade in America, including Grace Coombs and Ellie Bailes.
Courteney admits she sought advice from the Bailes when deciding where to study, someone she looked up to when coming to the end of her time in the CoE.
She now hopes others youngsters at the club can look up to her and follow in her footsteps by forging out a career in Charlton’s first team.
“I have spoken to Bailes a lot and she has helped me with little things like learning the system with D1, D2 and D3 schools and the good places to go and the not so good. That was really helpful.
“We’ve had quite a good bunch of girls come through and we’re all stepping up. I got to look at Fliss [Gibbons] and Ellie Bailes do it and it inspired me.
“I hope that people like Kit and Rosie, who are a year younger than me, can look at older young players and see that it can be done.”