Clarksville, Ark.-The Ozarks Women's Soccer program has seen many young women of great character and tenacity over the years. I was very fortunate as a freshman last year to meet and interact with three of these young women.
Beca Groff, Kaitlyn Williams and Lacey Mainer were both mentors and great friends to me, impacting my life in a way I will never forget. This timeless influence the girls inspired upon my life and soccer career led me to question, where did they begin? How has soccer impacted their lives? Are they still involved in soccer? I set up an interview with each of them to find out, and the answers I received were both enlightening and inspiring!
I began by asking the most fundamental question, “When did you first begin your soccer career?” For Beca and Kaitlyn, the question was answered with a typical response. Both had begun playing as young children on their parents’ teams, and quickly found a love for the game that no other sport could replicate. For Lacey Mainer, however, her start came much later in life.
“I played basketball and softball my entire life and played both my freshman year at Ozarks. I had never watched a soccer game until I came to U of O, and it was love at first sight!” She went on to tell me how she had asked Coach Drotar to join the team, he agreed, and she came aboard the following fall.
From humble beginnings, these ladies progressed in the sport developing skills and leadership. Each girl agrees that soccer has greatly impacted their lives, especially physically as each continue to keep in shape. However, I think Beca best sums up the overall impact.
“Soccer has impacted my life… teaching me life skills such as teamwork, communication, and overcoming adversity. I look at it as an escape.” Kaitlyn would probably add one more aspect the game has given countless players: confidence. Soccer has a way of shaping and molding players into a person they never would have imagined, strong, confident, and prepared for challenges most would run from. The lessons gained from the beautiful game go beyond competitive play or reading the field. Lacey describes, “Soccer has taught me a whole new level of responsibility and commitment.” This type of responsibly and commitment have a unique and powerful way of transposing themselves from the field to the real world, and all three of these young ladies possess these aspects.
After discussing the impact soccer had on these young women, the conversation shifted to the future; a topic I was most eager to discuss. I asked each of them, “Do you see yourself being involved with the game?” Each of them answered with a response of unison thought. Yes! For Lacey, soccer in the future involves acting as a trainer. She tells me, “I’m happy with being on the sideline and taking care of the athletes.” In fact, she continues to extrapolate that soccer was a major influence on her career choice! She’s not alone in this sentiment, either. Both Kaitlyn and Beca mirror the influence soccer has had on their career choices, to in some way someday touch and give back to the sport they love so much.
Before I ended my discussion with the girls, I asked them to tell me in a couple of words what soccer has meant to them. By far, I enjoyed and best related with what Beca had to say. “It’s a way of life!” For most players, this is the way we see soccer. We put our bodies through physical torture every day, but we can’t imagine ourselves without it. Even for the ladies whose careers are over, soccer will never leave them. Kaitlyn says, “My time of playing competitively is over… [But] I will still probably goof off and play around with people”
It is this love for the game, to continue on even when the end has come, that inspires me to acknowledge every practice as a blessing. A blessing that is not to be taken for granted, rather to be cherished and taken full advantage of.
By Sophomore Women’s Soccer Player Jennifer Scott