By Nathan Keil, Lariat sports writer
It isn’t every day that an opportunity to travel and further athletic training in Germany falls into someone’s lap. However, that is exactly the opportunity that presented itself to the Lady Bears soccer team this past June. As they boarded their flight, they sought ways to build on the success of their second-place finish in the Big 12 a year ago.
Their 10-day trip took them all across Germany where they experienced the culture, religion and history of Frankfurt, Munich, and Heidelberg. They even ventured to Salzburg, Austria, for a day. As rewarding as the travel and experiences were, the team used this opportunity to further develop team chemistry that can improve their competitive edge on the field.
“Soccer was the core heart of it,” said senior midfielder Bridget Hamway. “But it was way more than that, and I think a lot of it was that we spent so much time together exclusively just us, the team, in a new environment and get to build off-the-field relationships, which is essential for on-the-field performance.”
The trip provided ample opportunity to work on aspects of players’ own personal game as well as team components and relationship building. They had the privilege of training with some of the best teams across Germany, including the German Cup champions.
“Getting to see how the sport is played in another country and another continent was beneficial because we got to see how their training worked, and seeing how their training worked pointed to where we thought we could grow,” Hamway said.
The trip originated out of the kindness and generosity of Baylor alum, Nancy and John Jackson, who accompanied the team on every leg of their journey through Germany. Although they have no ties to the Baylor soccer program, the Jacksons attended a donor dinner at the opening of the Williams Center and were so enchanted by the character and culture of the Baylor soccer team that they wanted to be involved in some way, whether through donations or giving advice.
The Jacksons attitude pushed Baylor’s players to look inward, reflect on the opportunities they have been given and continue to dedicate themselves to working hard every day.
“Seeing how gracious the Jacksons were in giving us this trip, I was personally inspired to continue to work at what we do at Baylor in terms of soccer, our faith and friendship. Seeing that others are supporting us helps contribute to our success,” said junior forward Precious Akanyirige.
As the season approaches, the team is hard at work. They hope to use their the training they got in Germany to propel them to success on the field. Their outlook and confidence are at an all-time high after seeing how sharp and competitive they were in Germany, but the first step towards mirroring this success begins by acclimating the incoming freshmen to the Baylor.
“They’re a great group on and off the field. We need to work to bring them into the system and work them into our chemistry. I think, then, we can do great things this season again,” Akanyirige said.
Talent, experience, leadership and confidence: the pieces are all in place for the Baylor soccer team. It now rests on the shoulders of execution. Regardless of the outcome, the spirit of Baylor soccer is alive and thriving.
“Whatever happens any given day, we are just going to come up, show up and do what we do best,” Hamway said. “I think that’s the mentality.”