On that first day, all 28 of us girls walked into a classroom to be met by two very large, very tatted, and very threatening men. They preached about the importance of leadership and what it takes to be a good teammate. I’ve always thought of myself as a good teammate, but what I realized pretty quickly was my idea of a good teammate was just a little watered down. Patting my teammate on the back and telling her that it’s ok she didn’t pass fitness because she did her best, is not being a good teammate. Taking it easy on my roommate during a 1v1 because she is my friend, is definitely not being a good teammate. Letting myself not give 100% in everything we do, is the worst form of letting my teammates down. Sure my teammates can be my friends, but a group of friends isn’t going to win a championship. What’s going to win a championship is a group of outstanding teammates all dedicated to each other - and the same goal and doing whatever it takes to finally win an A-10 title.
Now I find myself entering a season pretty healthy (certainly feeling better than I’ve felt in years) but there is still some frustrating and nagging knee pain. It could be an excuse not to work as hard as I can, not to stretch my endurance or sell out for that 50/50 ball. However, as aggravating as this is, I also find myself improving on the field, feeling better with treatment everyday and this keeps me optimistic. And optimism is the best way to keep from being an excuse maker!! I look at my older sister Kathleen, she is the captain at UMass Dartmouth, and I know that this is her last year of playing soccer. It’s amazing how fast things go by, as it seems like yesterday that we were little girls playing in the backyard together against the net our father made from PVC pipe! She makes me realize that when your career is over – there are no more excuses. And, for me there are now just two years left. This is as good a reason as any to keep pushing and playing.
There are few people so dedicated and hard working in all aspects of life as Kristen. Every day she motivates me to be better; whether as a friend, teammate, player, or student. Her past year has been extremely challenging, but a smile remains on her face and she is as good as a friend and teammate as she was the day I met her eight years ago. If our team needs an example of someone who doesn’t make excuses for herself - we need to look no further. Recently Kristen had started to play a little and be more active on the field. However, the same pain she endured pre-surgery returned and MRI’s showed another torn disc in her back. I cannot imagine what this must feel like. To make such strides, only to regress once again, is so incredibly heartbreaking. My little nagging knee pain seems so trivial and in comparison it is nothing more than a silly excuse.
Our first game is less than a few days away and I’m excited to embark on another season with a team with immense potential, incredible players and most importantly – a group of great teammates. I entered UMass with one goal: To help the Minutewomen get back to the top of the A-10. After all I have been through, my commitment to that goal remains stronger than ever. This is going to be the year we get back to the top.