Damian Houlden | Head Coach | Women’s Soccer | Mitchell College

Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?

1) We normally look for academic ability as the primary piece. The rationale behind this is that if they are academically weak we are not willing to risk losing them after year one, which can upset the team dynamic as well as the recruitment cycle. We also look at their personality. Are they upbeat/outgoing, maybe quiet but someone we feel we will enjoy spending time with. This also includes their character i.e. are they competitive and someone who exhibits a don’t lose attitude along with a couple of other attributes.

2) We also look for athleticism and then finally ability. Athleticism is geared more towards quickness and speed as well as endurance, as this last factor can tell us a lot about their work ethic. Ability is primarily focused on first touch and decision making.

3) And lastly, do they generally enjoy playing. Are they having fun. If they are, they are usually more confident and have a tendency to play at a higher level.

Could you give an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?

An example of an athlete who exhibits our philosophy and for the most part exceeds many of our expectations is a current freshman. During the recruitment process she was failing high school and we were not interested in her. However, we stayed in touch, gave her some ideas that we wanted her to pursue such as tutoring etc. and 6 months later she started to getting B’s in class. This is a kid whose sole identity was just as an athlete. Her brother plays professional baseball and that reputation along with her athleticism was her primary focus and means of gauging whether or not she was successful. We’re pleased to say we have helped her refocus her thinking.

She is now maintaining a B average and goes to class early and is one of the more favored students because of her attitude to learn. This I think has really surprised her!! During the summer she came into preseason conditioned, and gained a starting spot straight away. The gamble in our eyes paid off. However, midway through game 3 of the season it was feared she may have cracked her fibula and next thing we know she is in a boot; six weeks later the boot came off (last week). During the six weeks this kid has done everything she can to try and maintain some form of conditioning (at least to slow down the regression). X rays last week showed the crack is no longer there, so she has restarted the process of getting back into shape for the last three games of the season and hopefully regain her spot for the post season bid.

Yesterday during an away game she travelled with us. As we are getting ready to travel she arrived at the college 60 minutes early to go for a 30 minute run. During the game, she was running again doing laps around the field (30 minutes per half) just because she wants to get back playing. The opposition as well as our own team are more than impressed, and the pride our players had for her was immense.

This is a kid whose whole persona embraces who and what we are. We are very, very proud of her and pleased we could share that with you.