SOCCER: Looking back on their years

David Merrill

With the soccer season more than a week in the past, the Daily sat down with some of the senior members of the team to talk about their careers at Iowa State.The players were:

Ann Gleason

Elisa Berzins

Adrianna O’Neill

Elise Reid

Amanda Nimtz

Q: What would you say was the hardest thing you had to go through during your four years on the team?

Gleason: I think the spring of freshman year was the hardest part because I don’t think any of us knew what to expect. It was a lot more mentally and physically challenging than I had imagined it to be. I was excited and proud when we got done with it, that’s for sure.

Berzins: Going through my two micro-fracture surgeries. Hearing from trainers, coaches and even my own doctor, telling me I’ll never play again. Being able to work through that and having the backing of my teammates, my family and friends. Just being able to push through that was definitely the hardest thing, just not through soccer, just in general, that I’ve had to do. I can distinctly remember four or five times when I was writing an e-mail to Wendy [Dillinger} or making a phone call saying I can’t do it anymore.

O’Neill: I think the hardest thing was probably adjusting to school and soccer and traveling at the same time my freshman year. I also agree with Ann that, that first spring was brutal — having like two days off while running my life away.

Reid: For me, the hardest part was running. I hate running. This is so weird because this is a running sport. My freshman and sophomore year, I actually liked running and I felt like we were fine, and in great shape, and I didn’t mind the running. Then, in my last two years, I felt like a grandma — I could not run. That, mentally, was the hardest part to get through for me.

Nimtz: The coaching change — just because they were so different. They were complete opposites. It’s always hard, but when you have it change like that, it’s going to be even harder on us.

Q: What was the biggest difference between the two coaching staffs?

Berzins: I think knowledge of the game was the biggest thing. I think Rebecca [Hornbacher] was a phenomenal goalkeeper, but sometimes it was hard for me to understand where she was coming from because she had such a goalkeeper mindset.

Q: What was your first impression of coach Dillinger and her coaching staff?

Berzins: At first, I was surprised we got a woman again. [Teammates nod in agreement] I thought that was an issue with a lot of girls on the team. I’m glad with the choice though.

Gleason: I think it’s just different. I grew up having a male coach for everything until I got to college, where I’ve just had female coaches. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, they’re just different.

Nimtz: Men tend to take it to more of a professional level, whereas women can tend to be more friend-like and get into your personal life at times — naturally.

Reid: I think, at times, Rebecca would be too much of a friend, and not enough of a coach, that it would get in the way of some things. Wendy knew when to be your friend, and when not to be your friend.

Q: What advice do you have for the players that are coming into this program?

O’Neill: You just can’t take anything for granted when you come here. There’s nothing set in stone here. You could be like Berzins and get told that you’ll never play again. You have to come out and play every game like its your last, and be willing to play any position. Be a sponge, like they always told me.

Reid: I’d just have as much fun as you can, because obviously were playing this sport because you love it and you have fun with it. Some of the stuff we do is not fun, and you have to find something fun about it, otherwise you’re not going to get through it.

Nimtz: Keep a positive attitude because as a freshman, you have no idea what’s coming your way. School, soccer, you have no idea what’s coming. If you can keep a positive attitude, I think you will be better prepared for the situations that will arise.

Q: Why do you play this sport and put yourself through all the work that comes with it?

O’Neill: I’m lost without it. This week [after the season is over] has been awful. I don’t know what to do with my life. I’ve been playing since I was four, and this is the first time that I can remember that I’ve had a week off. I just love soccer, and I can’t see myself without it. It hasn’t hit me yet.

Gleason: I’ve even been playing the last three summers. It’s going to be weird to not do anything. It’s just been constant playing these past few years, that it’s going to be like, ‘what do I do when I’m not playing?’

Berzins: For me, I think it was wanting to prove people wrong. Only 5 percent of all college students are college athletes, and to be a part of that 5 percent — that little niche — is kind of awesome now that I look back at it.

The consensus agreement on their favorite soccer moments were: The trip to the Big 12 tournament experience in San Antonio, Texas, a spot in the NCAA tournament, beating Texas this year in the final home game and a trip to Las Vegas for a game against UNLV during the senior’s sophomore year.

Of the five seniors the Daily talked to, none of their future plans included soccer. Gleason is planning on doing a co-op with Cargill in Cedar Rapids this summer while working in a corn milling plant. Berzins is planning on moving to Denver, Colo., to pursue a career in sports marketing and event promotion. O’Neill will complete an internship next spring with soccer strength and conditioning coach Andrew Moser. Reid will be staying at Iowa State for another year and a half to complete her advertising major, and hopes to intern with Maggie Moo’s, also in Denver, Colo.