Friends. A word not usually reserved for sports. Sports fans are used to the association of sports with words like competition, endurance and intensity.
The women’s club soccer team, while known for its consistent success on the field, is also a team off the field.
After playing almost the entire season this team has become much more than a practice and play team, they have become a real team.
A team built with unity on and off the soccer field has the women’s soccer team in position to win the national tournament later this month — a position that did not come easily.
“All our players are full-time students balancing academics with athletics,” said player Ashleigh Feller. “The expectations for our team [are] commitment, dedication and a drive to succeed. We want to win.”
The team practices three times a week and usually plays two games every weekend. This giant workload has made the women on the soccer team spend time with each other and develop a kind of chemistry that few teams have the ability to boast.
“We all work well together and support each other on and off the field,” said team president Katie Powell. “It’s nice to hang out outside of playing soccer. I think it helps build team unity,” Powell said. “We have a great group of girls who get along great and don’t just play soccer together but are friends off the soccer field as well. We have a lot of heart and want to win not only for ourselves but for each other.”
As with most things in sports, unity takes time. When the Rams added new players to the team this season they got great talent but also had to adjust to new movements and skill sets.
“Our biggest challenge this year was just getting to know each other,” said Feller. “We had a lot of new additions and in the past haven’t really been able to connect nearly as well as a team. This year we overcame this pretty much right away.”
The players on the team have discovered that playing together inside and outside of the white lines have made them better players and better friends. This, along with their tireless work, effort and rough practice schedule has made the Rams second place in their region to first place CU-Boulder. The Rams tied CU at home early this year.
CSU battled injuries this season and got into their second place position using determination and toughness. While none of the injuries were career ending, they had an effect that the team had to overcome with hard play and good coaching.
Mike Clitnovici, the new coach of the Gold (A) team, recently moved here and works vigorously to maintain a good coaching technique while working two jobs. This sets the tone for the women he coaches, as the Rams are both students and athletes while they juggle other responsibilities. He also has a way of motivating the team.
“You have to have passion for the game and you have to want to go out there and give it your all and play for each other,” said coach Clitnovici when talking to his players.
The Rams will have their final regular season game at home against Denver on Friday. The Rams will be traveling to Tuscaloosa, Ala. for nationals on Nov. 19.
Sports writer Keith Robertson can be reached at email@example.com.