HUSTER: What Makes Wake Forest Special
Nov. 2, 2015
This article was originally published in Our Game Magazine’s 2015 College Issue and on OurGameMag.com
6:10 a.m.: While I won’t lie and say that my very first thoughts at these wee hours of the morning are altogether joyous and bright, I will admit that once I hurdle my morning crankiness, I’m immediately flooded with excitement and anticipation. A single thought gets me out of my warm, cozy bed and on my feet: I have training in 50 short minutes with some of my best friends while doing my absolute favorite thing in the world. I attend Wake Forest University and I’m lucky enough to call myself a Demon Deacon on the women’s soccer team. Having just finished my first year of college, I’m convinced there’s no better school to attend and no better program to play for. After reading about a single day in my college life, I’m sure you won’t be able to disagree with me.
7:00 a.m.: Sweatpants are necessary for me to stay warm — it gets cold in North Carolina, who knew? — and my legs are a little sore, but these thoughts are quickly forgotten when training begins. A quick round of agility and speed training by our strength coach is followed by technical drills and passing patterns. Amidst the chatter between players, Tony da Luz, our head coach, urges us to pay attention to detail, reminds us of the need for sharp and crisp passes, and hollers out random Spanish phrases just for good measure. Jason Lowe keeps the mood light with instructions and a joke here or there, sometimes at my expense. Megan Jessee joins in on the banter while directing the goalkeepers at the same time.
When I was choosing where I wanted to spend my four years of college, I created a list of the factors that I found most important in a school. Because I was still quite young when crafting this master list, some of those initial things are now embarrassingly irrelevant. However, one of the most important things to me then, and now, remains: the staff of the soccer program. Upon meeting the staff and personnel at Wake Forest, I felt welcomed and relaxed. Tony, Jason, and Megan are our team’s fearless leaders; coaches who we not only learn from on the soccer field but also adults who we can emulate throughout life. Their laid-back personalities, but intense coaching styles, translate on the pitch and have led to our team’s success.
9:30 a.m.: We’ve finished training, or rather, it seems that training has finished me. Tony turns on the “shut up clock” — a personal invention whose purpose is to keep us quiet long enough to actually cool down and recover from training (patent pending). While his device is effective in keeping me from chattering away with my best friends, I still feel like an 80-year-old woman has inhabited my body. But never fear, our trusty athletic trainer has become a pro at realigning my hips and making me feel like new.
Like I said earlier, the personnel at Wake Forest are all top-notch professionals, dedicated to helping us Demon Deacons perform at our best. Our sports medicine facility is top tier, complete with hot tubs and ice baths, with which I have a love-hate relationship. Our trainer, Heather, is equally sweet and funny, and always available for treatment. Our strength coach, Tim, keeps our team strong and balanced, and is always encouraging the team to rise above our previous bests. The unstoppable duo that is Heather and Tim keep the women’s soccer team strong and healthy, always game ready and always a step above our opponents in the ACC.
1:00 p.m.: After attending my morning classes, I check my phone and find that I have a dozen messages asking, “pit?” The pit, of course, is our school cafeteria and I know that I can always find my teammates at our usual spot there. I jog (walk) over and enjoy lunch, and gab with my teammates about the latest practice or upcoming game. We’re often joined by other student-athletes and soon our table is bustling with hungry people, a funny, but not very mannerly, sight.
My favorite thing about Wake Forest will always be the people. Whoever said “the people make the place” was right. As the smallest school in the ACC, the athletic program at Wake Forest is truly a family-oriented one. The soccer team and the rest of the athletic community have become a home away from home, and I’m endlessly thankful for the sisters and brothers I gained when I joined the Wake Forest soccer team. As a member of the soccer team, I can honestly say that I will never understand the genius behind the way Tony, Jason, and Megan put together our group of girls: we all fit together and complement one another perfectly.
5:00 p.m.: After we grab dinner together, the team usually hangs out somewhere on campus. If another sports team has a game at home, we usually go and support our fellow student-athletes. After shouting a few “Go Deacs” at the game, the team might head up to Spry, our soccer stadium, to knock the ball around or play pick-up. To me, Spry days are the best days. With a perfect playing surface, teammates that have become sisters, and Taylor Swift’s latest single blaring, there are few places in the world that make me happier than playing at Spry Stadium.
A close second to my cozy bed I mentioned earlier, Spry Stadium is one of my favorite places on the Wake Forest campus. What’s even more exciting is they’re currently renovating the field and adding professional touches to what was already one of the best fields in the ACC. Playing in the ACC provides us with the best competition in women’s soccer, and playing for Wake Forest provides us the opportunity to play those matches on a beautiful field in front of a dedicated, spirited, and intense crowd. Nothing can compare to wearing the Wake Forest crest and playing in front of a crowd that loves to see and participate in a Demon Deacon victory.
When we aren’t playing a game at Spry, we’re training. As a very competitive and goal-driven person, the atmosphere at Wake Forest, which promotes improvement and competition, is a perfect one for me to thrive in. The word “extra” has become the team’s motto and was even sent out via a mass text from Tony — whether on purpose or by accident, we’ll never know. Because doing extra training or extra lifting or extra running has become paramount on the team, the phrase “Let’s go to Spry” has become an invitation and an opportunity to do extra. This desire for improvement surrounds the team and is necessary for individual improvement and for us to compete in the ACC.
After an early, but productive training session, lunch with teammates, and a late night pick-up session on a beautiful field, I’m finally ready for bed. I have come to realize how blessed I am to be a part of such a team, or rather, a family. Playing for Wake Forest has made me a better soccer player and also a better person. I’m lucky to call Winston-Salem home, and any competitive soccer player would surely agree.
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