GREEN RIVER -- For as long as she can recall, Green River High School senior Raena Finch has always had a soccer ball at her feet.
Growing up, wanting to be like her older siblings and cousins, Finch began playing soccer in rec league at the age of four.
Since that time, she has developed into one of the most talented players to come out of Green River.
On Monday, February 10, the four-year varsity striker for the Wolves signed her national letter of intent to continue her soccer career at Western Wyoming Community College.
"I'm super excited," she said. "I haven't watched many Western games over the years, but I know they have been successful. I'm excited to take that next step as a Mustang."
Another benefit Finch added about playing for a school close to her back yard is that its close enough to have her family come watch her play for the next two years.
"That was really important for me as well," she said.
With only a few more weeks remaining until the start of the season, Finch couldn't be more thrilled about closing out her high school career as a Wolf.
"It's both sad and exciting at the same time," she said. "I'm going to miss everyone I grew up playing with here, but I'm also excited to start this new journey."
When asked what she plans to take with her to the next level, Finch responded "Definitely my positivity and overall love for the game. I've been playing soccer for so long, I've learned that no matter how the season is going, you just gotta stick with it and stay the course."
Despite getting off to a rough start in 2019, Finch helped lead the Wolves to an overall record of 5-10-1. She was later one of two Green River players voted onto the 4A West All-Conference team by the Wyoming Coaches Association.
Come this March, Finch will enter her final season with the Wolves with a new head coach at the helm. Chris Nielsen, who now replaces former head coach Tracy Wyant, has spent the last seven years as an assistant coach on the Wolves girls soccer team.
Not only has Nielson watched Finch grow and develop over the years, but outside of high school, Nielsen has also spent time coaching her back when she played club on the Green River Spurs for two years.
When asked what he thinks Finch will provide at the college level, his response was "Raena is going to bring a lot of great qualities to Western. One that she's had since she was a freshman is leadership. She's always taken the lead on things and has shown other plays what to do through her actions. She is very coachable and always has a great attitude. She's constantly fun to be around."
As to what Finch should expect once she steps onto the field as a Mustang, the new GRHS head coach said "I think the first thing she's going to expect is the level of intensity is going to be different. She works hard, but she's going to have to take her game to a whole new level. In college there are going to be girls that are either at the same skill level as her or close to it."
Nielsen also added that after years of watching Finch play, one of the first things that caught his eye was the natural talent she had with the ball.
"I remember her freshman year she started on JV and in only a few weeks she was starting on varsity the majority of the games," he said. "Raena's got that determination and learns from her mistakes well."
Unsure of just how long she was going to continue playing the game she has grown to love, it wasn't until the end of her junior season last year when someone from Western Wyoming first contacted Finch about possibly playing soccer in college.
"After that phone call, I remember feeling a bolt of confidence go through my body," Finch said. "Before that, I didn't even think I was good enough to play past high school."
Starting next fall, after arriving on campus, Finch will have a lot to get used to, both on and off the field. Next to having new teachers and teammates, she will also be playing for her third head coach in as many years.
Despite everything coming her way, the soon-to-be Mustang doesn't seem phased.
"I plan to go in with the right mindset and do whatever it takes to help my team be successful," she said.
Following her time at Western Wyoming, Finch plans to graduate with a degree in business management. She would then like to go to cosmetology school.