“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
The 2011 season was certainly a special one for the Lady Bulldogs, both on and off the soccer field. Although we started the season with the goal of winning the South Atlantic Conference and making the NCAA Tournament, we did not simply focus on results and instead always related every practice and game back to performance and progress. Every day was an opportunity and another question was being asked of our team. The practice field, weights room, and class room is where we worked extremely hard to maximize our potential as a team and as individuals.
On the game field there were the following highlights:
– Winning our first ever SAC Conference Tournament Championship
– First ever NCAA Tournament appearance
– A school record of 16-4
– Kelly Adams becoming Wingate University Women’s Soccer’s first All-American
– Unbeaten at home during the whole season
Off the field, as twenty six players reported for pre-season, our goal as a group was simply to come together. In August, we talked a lot about putting the team before yourself and how role acceptance would be crucial for us to move forward together. Our girls did a great job in that department. Our leadership core also did a fantastic job of ‘managing’ the locker room and because of that, we had minimal off-the-field distractions. This took work, sacrifice, and a great level of maturity from everyone.
At the same time, enjoyment and fun were never far away from our work throughout the season. Birthdays were always recognized and the work that our team put into “Senior Day” spoke volumes of just how much they respect our upper classmen. With our first five games on the road, our away trips became great team-building exercises. I think a lot of our team would point to the trip we took to Scarowinds as one of the highlights of the season, although I am still having nightmares from one of the rides! Senior captain Casey King established the first ever “Kick Pink” Day for our program. This will grow every year and already pink uniforms are in the pipeline for next season – a great legacy for Casey to leave with the program.
As new year approaches, we are already looking forward to next season. Dealing with success can be just as important for teams as dealing with set-backs. Desire and hunger will be key areas that will be examined when we meet up again in the spring. As we continue to focus on performance, our goals and expectations will again rise for everyone in the program. A challenging spring season against quality opposition will test us on the field, while conditioning and fitness will be key areas of it. Academic success is at the top of the list and lifestyle management will also be areas that we expect our players to excel at. There are also areas that we need to focus on in order for us to become even better next year. For Maz, Hannah, Kelly, Casey, and Stef, it is sad that they no longer get to practice and play with the team, but they will always be a big part of the program. As we lose a great group of seniors, we now have to fill that void both on and off the field. It is an exciting time with a great opportunity to build on what we have done and keep moving forward. Who knows what has in store for us next season, but as we meet up in January, the focus will be on one thing: the next practice session.