Mollie Pathman is a Duke junior and a recent member of the US U20 WNT. As she prepares for her 2013 campaign through spring season, she shares her thoughts on the importance of the spring.
It’s that time of year again. The season is over, time to dust off those running shoes and lifting gloves…it’s springtime. As freshmen, you are just settling into college life and recovering from the whirlwind of that first season — wow, that was exhausting! As sophomores, you’ve experienced last year’s spring, so you know all the running and lifting that lies ahead. When you are a junior, as I am now, you realize that this is your last season and that now it is your turn to be a team leader. It’s your time to step up and give everything so that no matter how your senior season goes, you will have no regrets. And as seniors you will soon be off on your own, without your teammates, facing the world after college soccer.
The spring season is about improving yourself. You set goals in the spring, whether you are a starter who wants to improve their non-dominate foot, or a non-starter working on speed to get more playing time in the fall. It’s a time when you are competing mostly with your own team, battling for playing time in the fall and to make everyone else better. And it’s a time to adjust to the loss of the seniors, who have guided and led you up until now. Everyone has new roles to fill, both on and off the field. Inexperience is no longer an excuse; everyone has played a season of college soccer and need to now consistently compete at the college level – no excuses.
Follow Pathman’s story after the jump.
Due to the limited number of spring games allowed by the NCAA, you can go months without testing yourselves against opponents. In the games you do play, teams come out with limited players due to injuries and loss of seniors so players find themselves trying new positions and filling new roles.
With these many circumstances and the realization that the score does not really matter in these tune-up games, it is hard to have the same game day feelings or the importance of winning as you do the fall. It’s not the same win at all cost “team before you” mentality. But as our goalie coach, Steve, pointed out before Duke’s first spring game this year: “Championship teams play at a championship level every time they step out on the field. Use this game as momentum to build off of next season.”
Spring games do matter; it’s not all just about the individual. This attitude applies to teams at any level. Spring is not the off-season, it’s the real preseason. The best players and teams approach every activity with a championship attitude and a national championship in mind. The spring is a time to get better individually and as a team. It’s a time for everyone to adopt a junior’s philosophy and play like it’s your last season, so that no matter how the season ends up you know you have given it your best. No regrets.