Moving forward: Women’s soccer club gaining ground over course of year

Provided photo Back row (left to right): Sam Verran, Lauren Sandy, Claire Langfoss, Meredith Brehob, Haley Papineau, Maddie Reitz, Bridget Troost, Erica Unlor, Madi Jarnot, Megan Sparks, Molly McKenzie, Ally Fenton, Katie Plesiewicz. Middle row: Ymailda Hernandez, Abby Mauno, Emma, Alex Waypa, Ally Kiekhaefer, Leah Meek, Raquel Pedrera, Nicki Gallup, Anna Brubaker. Front row: Corrina Kostrzewa.

HOUGHTON — Nicki Gallup is a dual biomedical and mechanical engineering major who joined the Michigan Tech club soccer club team in the fall of 2017. She currently serves as the vice president. The club competes in the Women’s Midwest Alliance Soccer Conference, in the 10-team Great Lakes Division.

“We are in a conference,” said Gallup. “We’re in the Great Lakes Region. There’s a scheduling meeting every spring. It was just a few weeks ago, we traveled down to Purdue. We meet all the other teams in the Midwest (to) schedule soccer games with them for the fall season. The home team schedules where the game is and what time the game is.”

The club has been focused on staying mentally and physically though for both tournament and match play during their fall competitive season.

“I feel like our mentality has improved,” said Gallup. “Even if we know the other school that we’re playing is better than us, we’re going to go out there and still fight every second. I think that’s really important, just having that strong mentality.

“(Being) mentally and physically healthy is something that we really strive for. We want all the women on the team to have a good mindset towards everything. If anybody on the team ever has any personal problems or issues, we’re always there to help.”

Gallup is proud of well the club has grown together, working hard to make the larger group stronger than any one individual.

“We’ve really improved our communication (as a team),” she said. “If there’s an issue on or off the field, we’ll talk to each other about it. That rarely ever occurs. We’re all super close with each other, and we do hangout a lot.”

An early tournament in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, stands out to Gallup as a big moment of growth for the club when things came together and their hard work started to pay off.

“We had a tournament in Eau Claire early on in the season and we had a decent amount of woman there that traveled with us that weekend,” said Gallup. “I just remember the connection that the girls had on field. We were all communicating (and) passing and moving the ball really well. It was, overall, a really good feeling because you know that everybody’s working together and striving towards something.

“That was a really good experience because we got to see what everybody was capable of and everybody got to play with each other. I feel like it was really good for the team to show that we have that skill. We just need to keep pushing and striving for it because we can get there.”

Gallup sees a rise and fall in the club from year to year in the level of competitiveness that sneaks through, however she sees the team growing more competitive now.

“Our seriousness for the sport is building,” she said. “Some years, we’re more on the fun side, but we’ve (started to) transition between being more fun and serious. We still have a good time, (but) we’re just taking the sport more seriously. That (has) really helped our mentality too.”

Strong female representation is of main focus for the club, which is just trying to get better every time the team takes the field.

“We really like to focus on the community (of) women at (Michigan) Tech because we are a minority here,” Gallup said. “We really want to get people out and involved with campus and other schools to get to know each other better. The soccer girls are such close friends.

“Being a female at Tech can be pretty difficult sometimes. In athletics it’s crazy that we have a woman’s varsity team but don’t have a men’s varsity team. Getting women out there (on the soccer field) is something that’s really important.”

Gallup is happy with the direction the club is heading at the moment.

“Comparing my first year to my second year, I feel like we improved a lot,” she said. “We’re not the best team in our conference, but we go out there (for) every single game and have fun. We love being out on the field (and) have a good time, really. We do make friends with other (players) on other teams too.”

Practicing alongside the men’s club team has also helped the team grow and improve on and off the field. The men’s and women’s clubs come together to host a fall tournament in the SDC, which helps them figure out what to improve on during the offseason.

“The men’s and women’s club soccer teams host a tournament in the fall after our seasons are done,” Gallup said. “Through the spring semester, we’re still playing up in the SDC’s multipurpose room. (It’s just) about getting touches on the ball, (because) that’s really important. We do some strength and conditioning (and) I’ve arranged for some of us to practice outside to get touches on the ball and being outside in general.

“We can learn a lot from playing with the guys and I know they can learn a lot playing with us, (so) that’s kind of what we’d like to see for this upcoming season. (We can use it as an opportunity to) get to know them better as people.”