Updated Aug 17, 2006 09:09:15
Freshmen Finding Comfort
RUSTON, La. – This year’s crop of five freshmen on the Louisiana Tech soccer team have all ready made their presence felt on the team, and these new Lady Techsters say it is mostly due to the returners.
Freshman Ryan Haney from Phoenix, Ariz., said she and the rest of the newcomers feel comfortable on the team already. They feel welcome and like they can play an important role in continuing to build the Lady Techster program.
“At first it’s hard to meet a new team that has been together already and fit in with them and play their style,” Haney said. “We started to mesh really well, and I think the team is better already than what it was from last year. I think we bring more depth, and we’re going to do our best to help the team and do our best to make the team better.”
Utibe Akpaninyie, from Columbus, Ga., Meagan Davis from Mesa, Ariz., Tara Gavlak from Colleyville, Texas, and Jill Medigovich of San Diego, Calif., join Haney as the other freshmen on the squad.
Head coach Jennifer Burns said the addition of the freshmen has only enhanced her team’s enthusiasm and helped create a team identity. Burns also said many of the freshmen could see significant playing time this year.
“Our team chemistry is better than any team I’ve seen,” Burns said. “Our freshmen are coming out of their shells and are really finding their place on the team on the field and off.”
Davis said she was tense coming somewhere new and unfamiliar, but her teammates eased the transition of coming from Arizona and branching out of her comfort zone.
“I was nervous and scared at first being such a long way from home, but it’s good to have 15 other people who have been through it and can help you,” Davis said. “They took us under their wing and showed us everything we needed to know. If we had any questions they were willing to answer them and they helped us out a lot.”
Now that the freshmen are here, they can help the team in its quest for its first Western Athletic Conference win. Davis said she believes doing that this year would be a special feat and show how much the program has grown in just its third season.
Haney said getting such a milestone win is why she wanted to come to Louisiana Tech in the first place.
“I came here for the experience. It’s a new program and I came to be a part of a new program,” Haney said. “You don’t have to try and fall into place with a team that has already won national championships and is established. Here you can help mold it. I think it will mean more if we start winning a bunch to have been a part of helping build the program rather than if they had already won a lot.”
The Lady Techsters begin their season August 25 at Nicholls State and will take a shot at their first conference victory against Utah State on October 8.