Soccer Player Reflects on Championship

Shelby Kuni

A new coach, a new freshman class, a new formation and now a new trophy to be placed in Bob Martinez Sports Center.

At the end of the game we huddled up, cheered, laughed, smiled and hugged each other as we realized all of our hard work had paid off, and our biggest dreams had come true. Every two hour practice, every fitness session and every minute of extra work we put in outside of practice had finally paid off. We were National Champions.

This last week in Orange Beach, Ala. would be a week we would remember for the rest of our lives. From beginning to end, this was the best week of most of our lives.

We left Tuesday morning for the 10 hour drive to Orange Beach. Usually we are tired and bored on the bus, but this trip was different; we were excited and anxious to get there. After watching Mr. Brooks, Hardball and Die Hard (all coaches’ choices), we finally talked them into letting us watch our team favorite, Ellen DeGeneres’ stand up. We all loved it, but we didn’t get to pick any more movies the rest of the trip.

We got our first chance to see the game field Wednesday morning. We had an early practice on the practice fields and then got to do a ‘walk through’ on the game field. We hung out in our rooms the rest of the day until the Banquet that night. If you were in my room, we played Wii during our free time. Other girls hung out at the beach, with their parents or did homework.

The banquet that night was a lot of fun. We got to see all the other teams, men and women, for the first time. A lot of “important” people talked, which always bores us, but we got to eat a lot and socialize with everyone else.

On Thursday, the day of our semifinals game, we all got up early and had a ‘team walk’ on the beach. Coach wanted us to get up and move around a bit before the game. It seemed to have worked because we came out flying in the first half, dominating against a very big and strong Grand Valley State in every aspect of the game.

We gave up a sloppy goal seconds into the second half, but ended up winning 2-1. We stayed to watch the later game, knowing we would play the winner in the championship match. “It was the best feeling in the world knowing we played our best game of the year and we came out with a great result. Grand Valley didn’t know what hit them; they underestimated us and beating them just felt that much better knowing that they knocked us out of the tournament last year,” Senior Reesey Bernard said.

Although we wanted to celebrate the big win, we had a remotely quiet night and got to bed early. We knew we were one step closer to the championship, and there was nothing that was going to stop us now.

Friday was our day to relax and hang out with our parents and friends who flew and drove hundreds of miles to come support us. At 2 p.m. a few of us went back to the game fields to watch the semi-finals of the men’s tournament. It was hard to watch Montevallo play Lincoln Memorial, knowing that our men’s team should have been there and was, hands down, better than both of these teams we were watching. That night some of the parents cooked dinner for us, and we had a very relaxing night as we ate salad and pasta in our condos.

Although the game wasn’t until noon, I don’t think anyone could sleep past 8 a.m.

We were all up early, making breakfast and getting ready for the biggest day of our lives. We left at 10 a.m., and with butterflies in our stomachs we got ready for the championship match.

From the second that the whistle blew, we were playing our hearts out for one another and for the seniors who made this team what it is today. We knew how much we wanted and deserved it, and we never gave up.

“I feel like a lot of people didn’t think we could make it back to the final four this year, and it feels good to prove those people wrong and bring the national title back to Tampa. We worked really hard and had a rough schedule this season, but it was for the better in the end; all the hard work paid off

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