There is a story behind every college athlete and this is the story of Brooke Bleeker, Defensive player of the week in the Northern Sun Conference.
Her story begins way before college and back into the 5th grade. Bleeker is originally from Visalia, California and that is where she began her pathway into her soccer career with club soccer which she played until graduating high school in Iowa. She began playing soccer as a very timid player not liking a lot of contact and mainly relied on her speed. Over time she realized that the speed she was using wasn’t going to work all the time and bigger girls would physically push her off the ball so she had to bury her timidity and become physical.
Bleeker had to adapt with switching teams and positions. When I interviewed her, she commented that playing with different teams, coaches and clubs made her a well rounded soccer player. From South Valley United (California) to Gateway City and eventually at TRISTATE REVOLUTION SOCCER CLUB (Iowa), she had the honor to switch teams a lot so she got used to adapting to different players and coaches that she was not familiar with.
Her adaptive, competitive nature and speed got her to be asked by other teams to guest play when those teams were down a man. Brooke guest played for many area clubs; Omaha Toro, Sioux Falls Rhythm, Sioux Falls Dakota Alliance and Quad Cities United in Davenport. She knew how to play different positions and what those positions needed to get done to find success. Eventually she found her place as defensive center back and she loved it. “Soccer is basically a giant chess game and it’s the center back’s responsibility to make sure everyone is in their correct position ball. So not only is it a physically demanding position, but also a mentally focused position,” she explained.
The transition from high school to college was not easy for her. “My initial reaction during my freshman year was asking myself if I actually belonged here and what did I get myself into. The fitness level was intense, but over time I grew more accustomed to the expected high levels of play and practice.” It was totally worth all the pain and sweat she went through to become the player she is today. Her teammates know they can rely on her for being a strong, fast and physical player and that is a reward in itself.
She is in her third year studying and playing soccer at the University of Augustana (South Dakota) and is working towards Physical Therapy Grad school. She also plans to take soccer into her future after college by being a coach and hopefully inspiring other little girls to follow into her footsteps.
Article taken from a Journalism classroom submission by Dayle Bleeker