Last year a group of female students turned their thirst for competitive soccer into a club.Now that their second season is coming to a close, the West Chester Women’s Club Soccer Team has talked about the season this past Wednesday, and how they have dealt with the growing pains that come with being a new club on campus. “It’s a good opportunity to play competitive soccer and be on a team committed to winning games, but still be less serious than the University’s team,” said sophomore Karen Sabatini, who came up with the idea of starting a club team.
“The first thing you need to start any club team is interest,” declared sophomore Nikki Thenier, another founding member. “The intramurals were not enough for me.”
“Karen prepared everything,” said Thenier. “We had a better turnout than expected and we eventually got approval from Club Council.”
The team, which currently lists 21 players on their official roster, began as the West Chester Borough Women’s Club Soccer team and earned the University’s recognition after one season of play.
“We are excited about being part of Club Council,” said Sabatini. “The team’s executive board meets with the exec. boards of the other clubs to give a budget report and speak on behalf of the club.”
Although they said they receive some coaching, no coach was present at practice on this breezy afternoon.
“Tara Koleski (West Chester’s Head Women’s Soccer coach) came out to one of our practices and helped us out by showing us some drills we could use in practice,” said Sabatini.
The team is essentially self-sufficient. Sabatini sets up all of the games. “I contacted the coordinator for club teams in the region to set up the game,” said Sabatini, who played high school soccer at Phoenixville High School, in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
Despite a rocky start, the team has improved its scoring to supplement its “powerhouse defense.”
Talking about opponents they have faced, Sabatini was adamant about the high quality of their opponents. “Next week’s game is at UMBC. We’ve been to Princeton, Lafayette came here, we played at Villanova, and we were in a tournament in Philly where we played Rutgers. These are huge Division 1 schools we are playing against.”
In the off-season, the team played indoor soccer at Rocket Sports in King of Prussia, and expects to receive University funding in the next year.
“Right now we pay dues,” said freshman Katie Ritzdorf, “A year is such a long time.” Others added that although dues are a pain, a club has to start somewhere.
Ritzdorf heard about the team from a classmate who gave her Sabatini’s name. She said she got in touch with Sabatini through Facebook and found out when practice was.
The rest of the team had similar stories, but next year could be different.
“I’m in the process of making the Web site. You can check it out at IWS.wcupa.edu/wsoccer,” said Thenier. The Web site will allow an alternative route for interested women to hear about the team. ‘It’s going to be hot!,'” said Thenier with a smile.
Besides playing good defense, these girls love to smile. “We are all about having fun and meeting people,” said Thenier.
“We are on friendly terms with other clubs. We even scrimmaged the Club Lacrosse Team,” said Sabatini.
With all of the laughter one might think that everything is perfect with this team, but that is far from the truth. The field the women play on, which is located across the street from the West Chester Commons, resembles a mine field. There is more dirt than grass. Apparently, this is an improvement.
“Last semester, we played on a baseball field in a park,” laughed Thenier.
Sabatini pointed to a lopsided goal and said, “We bought spray paint and painted it to make it presentable.” She went on to touch the bleacher she was sitting on and said, “We carried these bleachers here all by ourselves. We couldn’t get anybody from maintenance to help us.”
“We’re talented girls, we do it all!” said Gina Shaw.
While the conditions are less than ideal, the team remains upbeat and looks forward to a bright future.
“We didn’t have cuts this year, but if more girls come out next semester we will have to,” said Sabatini.
They have flat soccer balls, a lopsided goal, a nearly grassless field, tough competition, even tougher players and lots of laughs… sounds like my kind of club.