Oct. 19, 2011
The legendary Vince Lombardi once said, "Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile."
Those words fit Louisiana Tech senior Olivia Lukasewich (Woodbridge, Ontario) as she stepped forward this year as one of the leaders on the Lady Techster soccer team.
"She has always been a leader by example, but in her senior year, she has adapted her leadership style to one in which she motivates and inspires others around her to perform better and reach their full potential," said head coach Kevin Sherry. "She is a very driven person and has always been very focused on what she wants. She will not let others deter her from her goals."
An example of her leadership is Lukasewich has been the fittest player every year since she has arrived in Ruston. In turn, she has made others on the team work harder to improve their fitness levels.
"Olivia has been the best in-shape player since her freshman year and has always been first in endurance running and sprints," said assistant coach and former teammate Kat McCullough. "She leads by example and is one of the players that form the heart of the team."
According to Lukasewich, much of the credit for the hard-work that she puts into improving her game and the team goes to her club coach Richard Alexander, who has had a big influence on her soccer career.
"He can motivate you in a way that I have never seen someone motivate a whole team before," said Lukasewich. "He played at Syracuse and is currently playing on a men's under-35 team and they are national champs. He also still sets goals for himself in soccer, and I think it is a true testament to his character that he is never complacent."
Because of Alexander's influence, Lukasewich has been a versatile player on the field because of her high fitness levels. Lukasewich joined the program as a forward and played the position for her first two years. Her freshman season she totaled 21 points (eight goals, five assists) which at the time was the second most in program history.
During her sophomore year, Lukasewich tallied four goals and five assists as she saw the Lady Techsters win their first every Western Athletic Conference game against New Mexico State. In the historic game against the Aggies, Lukasewich was credited with an assist on the game-winning goal in the second overtime period.
She moved to defender in 2009, starting all 21 games. She spearheaded a Tech defense that allowed just 21 goals that season - the second best-mark in school history - and helped the program qualify for the WAC tournament for the first time.
Her versatility came into play against this year. With untimely preseason injuries to a number of forwards on the squad, Sherry searched for a consistent scoring threat. Lukasewich has stepped into that role by leading Tech in goals with six through the first 17 games.
"We take advantage of her versatility and her fitness level by playing her on the wing. We allow her run up and down the field the entire time," McCullough said.
"The hard part about playing forward again is chemistry because even though you are on the same field, you have to be compatible with the people you are passing and making plays with," said Lukasewich.
Her hard-work and nose-to-the-grindstone attitude on the soccer field is also used in the classroom.
"I have always been a perfectionist. Even when I was in second grade, if something wasn't right I would have to do it over. I have just held myself to the standards I set." Lukasewich stated. "I also don't want to let anyone down. I want my parents to be proud of me."
Lukasewich's hard work in school has led to her earning Academic All-WAC honors every year along with helping the Lady Techsters earn the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Adidas Team Academic Award three consecutive years.
Outside of the classroom and soccer field, she likes to go to different clubs and events on campus to try them out.
"I am the kid who will check out the anime club, play the zombie game and the check out the astronomy club that night," said Lukasewich. "I just like to submerge myself into everything I can because you never know if you are going to have fun or who you are going to meet."
In high school at St. Jean de Brebeuf in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, Lukasewich lettered four years in soccer. She earned team MVP honors her sophomore year and in her junior years she was named team captain.
Along with soccer, Lukasewich also competed in badminton, coed and girls volleyball, was on the snowboard team and ran track and cross country. She earned team MVP honors in badminton, cross country and track even though she only participated in those sports for one year. At the end of her freshman and sophomore years, she was named the school's athlete of the year.
While being recruited, Lukasewich knew that she wanted to play Division I soccer but struggled to find the school that fit the requirements she wanted.
"The schools I looked at either had a really good coach and the players were not as motivated or it was vice versa. I just wanted the full package," Lukasewich said.
While at a soccer showcase in North Carolina, she was noticed by Sherry who wrote her an email afterwards showing his interest in her.
"When I got the email I thought it was just a generic one. So I emailed him back to test to see what he liked what he saw," said Lukasewich. "Coach Sherry wrote this long email back about what he liked, what I could work on and where he could use me."
After making a trip to Ruston during Christmas break, Lukasewich decided that Louisiana Tech was the right choice for her collegiate career.
"My parents told me that if I wasn't going to be home for dinner then I might as well be some place that I was happy," said Lukasewich.
Lukasewich will be graduating after the spring quarter with her bachelor's degree in education. She plans to become a physical education teacher at either the elementary or high school level. Before becoming a teacher, Lukasewich will pursue opportunities at continuing her soccer career.