Coloradans represent in women’s soccer

c61eb4a6-1dbc-4ab1-915a-63b564bc9d79.jpgSomething greater than a common love of the sport brought seven women’s soccer players together at Azusa Pacific this season: They all come from Colorado.

“We love being Colorado girls; we’re all super proud of where we come from,” said sophomore forward Reade Tillman.

The seven players make up almost one-fourth of the 29-member roster. Four of the seven have played in all 14 of the team’s games this season.

Not only are they from the same state but also from some of the same cities. Tillman, freshman defender Hayley Patterson and freshman midfielder Haley Williamson are from Colorado Springs, Colo., while freshman defender Courtney Camden and senior defender Allie Stone are both natives of Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Freshman forward Lindsey Ryals and sophomore forward/midfielder Haley Fisher are from Monument, Colo., which is between Colorado Springs and Highlands Ranch.

While several of the players knew each other before coming to APU, the bonding took place when the most recent freshmen students joined the team and the number of Coloradans rose to seven.

“Sharing my home state with six other girls on the team has been such a fun experience,” Stone said. “We are all very similar in our interests and passions for Colorado as well, so it makes it fun to be able to share those experiences both when we are at school and at home for breaks.”

They aim to expand the Coloradan family even further by continuing to recruit players from the state.

“Hopefully by my senior year, the whole team will be from Colorado,” Fisher said. “Just kidding… but seriously.”

Head coach Jason Surrell and the other recruiters from the women’s soccer program reportedly gained more interest in players from Pride soccer club, a non-profit soccer club located in Colorado Springs, Colo. in which four of the ladies participated.

It’s hard to find competitive soccer programs where the coaches and players are quality people as well, so I think word got out about APU’s reputation and more people started to have interest,” said Tillman.

A few of the players said the “God First” motto of APU and of the team greatly impacted their college choice. Five of the seven came from public high schools and specifically wanted to attend a Christian university.

“At my old high school, I never felt accepted because everyone was so judgmental, but coming here really opened my eyes,” Ryals said. “Not everyone is like that and I feel a ton more accepted, and that’s a great feeling.”

All seven sought a faith-based education and a close-knit team dynamic.

“We do devotions as a team, and I love that it’s not only athletics that ties us together,” Tillman said. “Because soccer will end, but who we are the kind of people we are shaped to be by our time in this program will affect us for the rest of our lives.”

The Coloradans all said they have a strong bond between them.

“We all treat each other like sisters because we all are sisters in Christ,” said Patterson. “I have never felt so included and important on a team before.”

They also provide support for each other in times of homesickness.

“It’s fun to have people that understand where you are coming from and what you miss back home,” Camden said.

The ladies also go through similar weather-related nostalgia as the winter season approaches.

“We talk a lot about what it’s like at home, say it’s fall and the leaves are turning or it was the first snow, and we all can’t wait to be home in December,” said Fisher.

All students can experience homesickness and often enjoy finding another person from their hometown or region.

“We all joke about how much better Colorado is with the experiencing of the four seasons,” said Patterson. “I think we all have pride in our state and wear Colorado attire to show it, but we all are happy to be in California and love it.”

However, even though they seem to enjoy the beach and sunshine of California, they will never stop loving their home state.

“We will defend our state more than anything,” Fisher said.