CLARKSVILLE, Ark. -- Ozarks Women's Soccer team member, Kaitlyn Williams, reports weekly on the team on and off the field.
The Team is the Ultimate Champion
Week 5: Letourneau University and East Texas Baptist University
This past weekend Ozarks competed against Letourneau University and East Texas Baptist University.
We travelled to Longview, TX on Thursday and what an adventure it was. Only 90 miles outside of Clarksville, our cruiser decided it wanted to shut down. On I-430, our bus driver Chad, coasted the cruiser over to the side of the interstate, where we sat for a few minutes before the cruiser decided to start again. Once started, we made it about five miles before it shut down again. This time we coasted to the median in the middle of the interstate. We realized that the cruiser couldn’t go over a certain mile per hour before it turned itself off. Once we realized this, the cruiser started up for us and we were able to drive slowly to the next exit and pull off into the Kmart parking lot. As the team unloaded the bus, we got to have some fun walking around in Kmart.
Our coach called us back to the bus and went to go to Bale Chevrolet so they could fix it while we rented vans to drive us to Longview. We passed a rental place and rented two vans, only to notice that we all don’t fit in two vans. Our coach made a note that we needed another vehicle so instead of another fifteen-passenger van we rented a mini-van. After getting the vehicle situation sorted out, two hours later, we were finally on our way to Longview. Once we arrived in Longview, we all gathered our belongings and went to bed.
We woke up Friday morning and we were all tired. You could just tell it was going to be a bad day. We played Letourneau and lost. After the game we had a long team meeting where we discussed the game and talked out about how we felt, not just about the game but about the team in general. Our team bonded through the meeting and we learned what we needed to do to succeed as a team. The goalkeeper for that game, Jenn Scott, is one who can see the entire game and knows what was going on and what needed to happen. She said, “We had some issues but our defeat gave us fuel for the drive that we had on Saturday.”
And as usual, on Saturday, we proved that. We came out against East Texas Baptist University with a fiery passion. They had expected to easily beat us and little did they know what we were capable of. We fought hard and even though we lost, we left everything we had out on the field. Several players had a lot to say about our performance in the game. Freshman midfielder Makenna Piha said “I feel like we came out strong today, a lot stronger. I felt like we should’ve had at least three goals. We’ve come so far as a team, it’s amazing what we’ve done these past seven weeks and now we just need to figure out finishing and not wanting to go to the goal as fast. That’s our weak point.” Freshmen forward Alex Cannon said “I felt like everybody had that fire, we played the whole ninety minutes despite the sickness and hurting. At the beginning we were lacking that, but now we have that fire.”
Ozarks will play Concordia and University of Texas Tyler on our home turf.
Week 4: Schreiner and Texas Lutheran
On last week’s agenda, Ozarks women’s soccer played the Schreiner mountaineers and the Texas Lutheran bulldogs.
It’s always nice to be able to play at home especially having home field advantage. Last weekend we split the weekend by winning 2-1 against Schreiner and losing 3-1 against Texas Lutheran.
Alex Cannon and Stephanie Hiatt scored for the Lady Eagles on Thursday and on Saturday Lauren Gilby had our only goal for the game. For Stephanie and Lauren, this was their first collegiate goal. Stephanie expressed her excitement in scoring her first collegiate goal in one word, awesome!
For the team, this week was about leadership and how leaders can influence a team to become a team and not just a bunch of individuals. Great leaders come in many forms. Leadership is the process of influencing team members to work hard towards, and be committed to team goals. To get the most out of each player and make the team experience a positive one, one must understand the individuality of players and the dynamics of group interaction. It is essential to know members well enough to be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses and use them to their fullest potential within the context of the team. The goal is to push the team to perform to their full potential. The coach, along with the players, must set obtainable yet demanding team goals. Coaches must develop a strong connection, which involves trust and confidence on both ends. Good leadership consists of motivating people to their highest levels by offering them opportunities, not obligations.
Week 3: Mary-Hardin Baylor and Howard Payne
Ozarks women’s soccer team played Mary Hardin-Baylor and Howard Payne this past weekend. Instead of taking two separate vehicles, we rode with the guys on a charter bus for a nine hour drive to Belton, TX.
We left at 7 a.m. Thursday morning and the first movie we watched was Prefontaine. In Prefontaine, Steve Prefontaine beats all the odds despite his shortness and becomes one of America’s most well-known runners, who set several records and went on to compete in the Olympics in Munich. Our coach actually picked this movie for us to watch. He wanted us to watch it because “It showed how much an individual (or team) can accomplish with lots of hard work and dedication.” Our team is capable of so much more than what everyone thinks.
The women’s soccer team this year has a bond like no other. We are all like sisters and we even fight like sisters. This past weekend, a conflict arose on our team. Seanan Heaney, a junior midfielder, said, “I’ve never been so frustrated with soccer, I felt like on and off the field there was a lack of caring, we were all injured and hurting and it hurt more to lose when no one cared.” As with most conflicts, words are said that can’t be taken back, but out of this conflict we arose a stronger team. Out of this conflict arose a team that won’t back down and will be there for each other till the end. After the 90 minutes on the field, we are still friends and are still a team. We may be a small team, but we have strong will power unlike any other. Our team is capable of competing aggressively in every match, not only because we can, but because we have the talent to do so.
On Saturday, alumni Lori Langman, spoke to us before the game. She spoke to us about trust. Trusting our team and trusting ourselves and trusting our coach that we’ll all have each other’s backs. We have to trust our team or else we will fail on the field. If we don’t trust our goalkeeper to save all the shots she can, we’re going to fail. If we can’t trust our forwards to get the ball in the back of the net, we will never score. We have to learn to trust our teammates and that’s exactly what we are learning to do. Lauren Gilby, a freshmen defender, said, “I think with the talk we had after the game, we were able to realize that if we can respect our teammates then we can start to trust. The trust will then build in to commitment to the team that will help us to fight to the end of the game.” This coming weekend we are playing Schreiner and Texas Lutheran and out on the field will be a different team. A team that is ready and willing to trust and sacrifice and play as a team, using the talent we have.
Week 2: McMurry and Hardin-Simmons
Ozarks women’s soccer team had their first full week of practices this past week. We have had so many games that we have never been able to have a full week of practices until this past week. We practiced through balls and give and go’s and moving after you pass the ball. We really worked on the technical side of soccer and making sure we knew exactly what we were doing. These exercises helped us in the games this past weekend. Central defender, freshman Brooke Tralmer said “This week of practices were rewarding and it showed the team where we’re at skill wise and what we need to work on.”
We played McMurry on Thursday, September 22. Our game day speaker was Sheree Niece and she talked about putting on our mental uniform. We put on our jersey every game, but behind the jersey what do we set our minds on? After her speech, we were pumped to get out and beat McMurry. We fought hard the entire game. We had great through balls and the passing was very fluid. We had them running. Alex Cannon and Abby Kern had several shots on goal. We ended up losing 3-0. We passed the ball very well and had several shots on goal, but we just couldn’t get the ball to go in the net.
On Saturday, it was time to face the number one team in our conference, Hardin Simmons. They are also the number one nationally ranked team for D3 schools. Our game day speaker was our Coach, Bryan Drotar. He talked about things that are evil in our lives and things that take over us. A lot of us were feeling doubt about the game we were fixing to play, since we knew exactly what type of team we were playing. Doubt is an evil emotion and something that we are able to overcome. We overcame our doubt by playing hard and giving everything we had. Even though we ended with a loss, we enjoyed playing the game. Our defense kept getting attacked but we never backed down. Our right outside back, sophomore Monica Seiler commented on the game. She said last weeks games were tough. Both games were definitely a struggle and even though we lost both games, I think our team grew stronger. Our team as a whole is very young and we rely on our new freshmen and so far I think they have done a great job of stepping up into the roles that we throw at them.”
Talking about the games this past weekend, Brooke said it best. “Last weeks games were exciting because we played so well against McMurry but couldn’t put the ball in the net, but it showed that if we continue to keep on working hard, wins will be that much sweeter. Hardin-Simmons was a real eye opener because as a freshman, it showed me how I have to perform to be a D3 champion in later years.” This week we will face Mary-Hardin Baylor and Howard Payne.
Week 1: Louisiana and Mississippi College
University of the Ozarks women’s soccer team travelled to Louisiana and Mississippi this past weekend to kick off the start of conference games in the American Southwest Conference. We left on Wednesday around noon. Normally we take a cruiser, but this time we ended up taking two U of O vans. As we were travelling down I-40, about 30 miles outside of Russellville, the tire on the trailer on the UO van in front of us blew out. Our driver Jim and Coach Bryan changed the tire and we were on our way to our first stop, Alexandria, Louisiana. We made it to our destination without any other troubles.
On Thursday morning, instead of a morning run, head Coach Bryan Drotar decided to take us on a leisurely walk down old railroad tracks. He told us to focus on the tracks and not step on the rocks. We stopped midway and made an inspirational talk. He told us "What’s in the past is in the past and from now on we are going to be moving forward and not looking back." "We aren’t going back the way we came.” He meant this statement to be literally and figuratively. Instead of walking down the train tracks back to our hotel, we had to find another way back. By becoming focused and working together as a team, we found our way through bushes and trees and barbed wire fences and made it back to the hotel. Following the inspirational speech, Ozarks came out on the field with a fierce passion to beat Louisiana College and that it is exactly what happened. We beat them 3-1. We celebrated our win with pizza in the hotel.
We awoke on Friday morning to travel to Mississippi, but on our way there, our coach thought it would be enlightening to spend the day at Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. During the Civil War, Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s armies converged on Vicksburg, entrapping the Confederate army under Lt. General John Pemberton. On July 4, Vicksburg surrendered after prolonged siege operations. The park was filled with memorials from different states and the trench lines from the Unions and Confederates.
Throughout this past weekend, from being in close quarters to being on the field, we grew closer to one another and that’s what part of being a member of the Ozarks women’s soccer team is all about. We rely on each other, we defer to each other, and we sacrifice for each other because the team not the individual is the ultimate champion.