GENEVA — Tamari Bekauri has had her eyes fixed on taking her love of soccer as far as she can go.
The Geneva High School senior took the next step in that journey Tuesday. Bekauri signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Niagara University on a partial academic scholarship.
She will play Division I soccer for the Purple Eagles.
“It’s kind of been a dream of mine to take soccer as far as I can, so knowing that I can play at the (Division I) level, it was really great,” Bekauri, 17, said. “To be able to have the academic scholarship means a lot; I can financially be able to afford that school and go to it. If I had not got that scholarship, I don’t know if I’d be going to that school, so it really meant a lot.”
It was a sense of community that guided Bekauri’s decision.
“It was between Niagara and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Ultimately, what it came down to was that I did two overnights at the schools and I just loved the atmosphere at Niagara,” said Bekauri, who plans to major in either math or biology. “Everyone was so welcoming ... there’s a community sense that they have there. It’s a Catholic school, so they have a lot of focus on community service and ethics and morals.”
Bekauri isn’t sure of where she will play on the pitch with the Purple Eagles. She toiled at center back and outside with the Panthers, although she prefers central midfield.
“Ultimately, what helps me is that I just have a love for soccer so that helps me to always strive to be better. I love the sport,” Bekauri said. “I ultimately think that I haven’t had as many opportunities to play elite-level soccer because it’s really expensive and hard to get to. I just feel like when I get there and have an elite training program that it will really elevate my game.”
Bekauri, who will be headed to Spain in March as part of the Olympic Development Program, is currently recovering from a concussion.
“First and foremost, I need to get cleared from the concussion and get back to training and getting fit,” Bekauri said. “As soon as I’m cleared I’m going to start training and getting fit because I need to be ready for my fall season.”