Centre women’s soccer team plays in international tournament
Two important aspects of the Centre experience are the opportunities to be a student athlete and to study abroad—which don’t often overlap at other institutions. They came together this summer when the women’s soccer team traveled to Ireland to compete in an international soccer tournament.
The team competed in the Carrickfergus International Ladies’ Football Festival along with four other teams from across the world. This marks the second time Centre has sent a team to the tournament. The trip was made possible in part through gifts from Centre alumni.
“Four years ago, when Danville became sister cities with Carrickfergus, we were informed of their soccer tournament. Milton Reigelman [director of the College’s Center for Global Citizenship] asked if I could put a team together and we took a team,” says Head Coach Jay Hoffman ’96. “We had such a great experience that we wanted to do it again.”
During the tournament, the Centre soccer team hit their stride, winning games—and recognition.
“The fact that we received three out of three awards given at the end of the international tournament—including the Fair Play Award, given to Centre Women’s Soccer as a whole—speaks wonders about the program,” says Mary-Taylor Kersey ’13. “It allowed us to see the potential of our program in what we have to offer in the fall. At the end of the day, we represented both the United States and Centre College in a positive manner.”
Playing in an international setting brought unique opportunities to connect with the other teams and to experience ways other countries play the sport.
“The team loved playing girls from different countries,” Hoffman says. “We found the etiquette of game enjoyable—there were some traditions and rituals during games we played that we’re not used to. We got to exchange the Centre pennant with the other teams, which was a lot of fun, and something that the team looked forward to.”
“Traveling to Ireland affected our team because it helped us broaden our horizons,” Kersey says. “Through the different cultures and different styles of play, we got to see how we match up with teams that we don’t know and that are unfamiliar with us.”
Traveling abroad together presented the team with some challenges—but Kersey says they used them as learning experiences.
“We got to see how we could react to certain types of adversity,” she says. “On the field, we had women playing in new positions and we were having trouble finding the back of the net at times. Off the field, flights were cancelled to and from Ireland—we were with a large group and had to learn to go with the flow. We accomplished a lot.”
Despite being thousands of miles from campus, the team happened upon a fellow Colonel in Ireland.
“A group of girls were walking around in Dublin and a Centre alum approached them—he had seen their Centre Women’s Soccer rain jackets. As it turns out, he [Trevor Collier ’02] played for Centre Soccer and received his BA in Economics at Centre,” Kersey says. “Now he has his Ph.D. and is teaching a course in economics in Dublin. It just goes to show how the Centre connection can be found everywhere and has no borders. I guess there is truth behind the saying, ‘It’s a small world after all.’”
Although traveling abroad was exciting, it was the opportunity to play together that was most important to the Centre women’s soccer team.
“Overall, what I enjoyed most about the trip to Ireland was being with the team,” Kersey says. “Having the opportunity to be in a foreign country playing the game we love with 20 of our best friends truly is the greatest feeling in the world. We are lucky that we have such a unique group of girls led by two very special coaches who read the game better than any other coaching staff I have had.
“We shared memories both on and off the field that will last a lifetime, and I will forever be grateful for having the opportunity to participate in this international soccer tournament in Ireland,” Kersey continues. “It was a once in a lifetime experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.”