By Jamie Belfer || Sports Editor
“Quirky, funny, and cohesive” is how members of the women’s club soccer team describe themselves. After interviewing Sophia Groff ‘21, Emily Anders ‘21, Antoinette Heil ‘22, and Zoe Favilla ‘23, I was able to get a glimpse into the comfortable home the team provides, where players of all experience levels can let loose and have fun.
With COVID, the team has had to make some adjustments to their season in order to practice and play safely while still having a good time. Instead of traveling to different schools to play games throughout the season, the team will spend most of their time practicing at F&M. They will continue to practice three times a week. Zoe explained that since the team does not have formal “coaches,” current and former presidents Sophia and Emily come up with drills themselves for the practice. Sophia enjoys the flexibility of “coming up with drills and getting feedback from her teammates in order to improve practices for the future.”
In addition, the team will have to make further adjustments to ensure the sophomores off-campus still feel a part of the team. Right now, sophomores have the option to join practices via Zoom so they can follow along with the drills at home. Sophomore Zoe Favilla loves that she is “still able to have the sense of community even when studying remotely.” The team will also try and do some Zoom dinners so players on campus and at home can reconnect.
Although this fall season will look quite different due to COVID-19 restrictions, the players are looking forward to the newness at the start of the season. Emily is excited to reconnect with everyone, as she had studied abroad last spring. Zoe is most looking forward to Zooming into practices and purchasing her first-ever soccer ball. Meanwhile, Antoinette is eager to get to spend some time outside practicing. And Sophia is happily awaiting the new first years and excited to “just play soccer.”
While Sophia, Emily, Antoinette, and Zoe have varying interests and come from different athletic backgrounds, they all come together on the soccer field. Additionally, all have a unique story behind joining the team.
Senior president Sophia joined during her freshman year in hopes of meeting new people and continuing her love for soccer. Emily also joined her freshman year, as she had grown up playing competitive soccer. While she did not want to continue at the same competitive level in college, she still wanted to stay connected to the sport she loved. Meanwhile, Antoinette and Zoe have pretty different reasons for joining women’s club soccer. When arriving at college, Antoinette was looking to find a sports environment to use as an athletic and competitive outlet. Although F&M did not have clubs for the sports she grew up playing, lacrosse and swimming, Antoinette found her place in club soccer despite having never played the sport before. Zoe, also a newcomer to soccer, was looking to join more of a team sport at F&M after having participated in track throughout middle and high school.
After joining, all four teammates have had some awesome memories being a part of the team. Antoinette first felt at home when her teammates joked about her wearing lacrosse cleats on the soccer field. She said, “You know when the people around you are really your friends when you can joke around and make fun of each other.” At that moment, Antoinette felt club soccer wasn’t just a competitive sport to be a part of but a place to hang out and have fun with friends, too. Some of Sophia’s and Emily’s favorite moments are watching their teammates improve their skills throughout the season and enjoy themselves while playing. Zoe loved her first season of club soccer because even though she had never played soccer before, she felt extremely welcome and comfortable on the team. All players reported their fond memories of the many dining hall dinners after practice.
Sophia, Emily, Antoinette, and Zoe balance club soccer with many other interests. Sophia is a part of Asian American Alliance, Zoe is involved in New College House government and Greek life, Antoinette is also affiliated and works as an EMT, and Emily is a part of the Environmental Action Alliance and is a Q&SC tutor.
Antoinette believes that what makes being a part of club soccer so valuable and fun is that it is “one activity on campus that is not stressful at all. It does not involve schoolwork, and it’s just refreshing. It has a great friend element that other clubs may not have.” Zoe echoes how the club soccer community goes further than just meeting three times a week on the soccer field, as she frequently would go to the library or grab a bite to eat with her teammates. Overall, women’s club soccer is a place to meet someone you may have never met otherwise. It is a fun athletic outlet where people of many different interests and sport backgrounds can come together and support one another under the common interest of soccer.
Junior Jamie Belfer is the Sports Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.