By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
Growing up over 300 miles apart and playing for rivaling club soccer teams, Baylor freshmen Mackenzie Anthony and Gabby Mueller never imagined they would end up on the same college roster.
“I think that was like the biggest thing, was just how not common this is and now we’re roomies,” Mueller said.
Although their soccer stories began very differently, somehow Mueller and Anthony ended up in the same place. They both started playing the sport at the age of five, but while it took Anthony a little longer to realize college soccer was where she wanted to go, Mueller always had a plan to get there.
“I think I started taking soccer seriously from the start, especially with my dad as my first coach when I was five,” Mueller said. “So, it was just always the path I knew I was going to take.”
Anthony was the opposite, however. The forward said she didn’t realize she wanted to play at the collegiate level until right before she began high school. That’s when she started taking it seriously.
Because high school soccer was not a big thing in either of their hometowns of Wheaton, Ill., and Macomb, Mich., the duo began playing club soccer in the Elite Clubs National League. Even though they lived a hefty drive of five hours and 14 minutes away from each other, Anthony and Mueller’s paths crossed often.
“We were rivals. We were rivals in eighth grade,” Anthony said. “Our coaches took this game very seriously each year.”
But just because they had an intense competition on the pitch didn’t mean they held anything against each other outside of soccer. When asked if she ever disliked Mueller, Anthony joked that she did sometimes.
“In games, I mean, everybody was frustrating, but I guess I never really had anything against you,” Anthony said to her teammate.
Oddly enough, their fathers became friends long before they did as they supported their daughters in a sport they both loved.
“We kind of knew each other because our dads,” Anthony said. “They used to always talk and they were like besties, you know, just talking about soccer.”
And then the fateful day came where Anthony and Mueller found themselves on the same visit to Baylor. Anthony said she spotted Mueller in the stands at a Baylor soccer game during a recruiting trip down to Waco in their sophomore year of high school.
“So, we’re just in the stands, watching a Baylor soccer game on a visit, first time here for both of us and I look to my right and I’m just like, ‘Is that Gabby?’ I know her,” Anthony said. “Is she following me? Like, what’s she doing here?’ Because we already knew each other, it was the most random thing.”
After that, Baylor was something that connected the two “rivals.” Mueller said she was excited when she found out Anthony had committed to Baylor.
“Because our teams were rivals, we kind of felt that tension but then once we had Baylor in common, then it was like, ‘Oh, it’s just Kenzie,” Mueller said.
Now starting their first collegiate season together as roommates as well as teammates, Anthony said they have become closer on and off the field.
“I feel like we’re more like sisters,” Anthony said. “I tell Gabby before games, ’Be ready, I’m looking for you.”
“I think I always look to her to play, especially because she’s right in front of me on the field and we just have that chemistry there already,” Mueller added.
Through the first three games of the 2020 season, the forward-midfield duo has combined for 19 shots, eight of them on goal. They have both started in all three games together, with Anthony totaling 281 minutes on the field and Mueller logging in 269 right behind her.
“I think the more we play together the more comfortable those runs will be and we’ll just start knowing each other in the way we play,” Anthony said.
The rivals turned teammates will look to continue growing together when Baylor faces off against No. 4 Oklahoma State tonight at 7 p.m. at Betty Lou Mays Field.
*Note: the photo above was added to this story after Baylor played No. 4 Oklahoma State. The Bears and the Cowgirls tied 0-0 in overtime.