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MIT student blogger Kim D. '09

MIT Women’s Soccer by Kim D. '09

Talking to the 2009 NEWMAC Champs after they returned from the NCAA National Championship Tournament

When I came to MIT I joined the marching band. We played at all sorts of sporting events, some of which I had never seen before. I saw lacrosse, water polo and crew competitions for the first time. I joined the intramural pistol team and came to appreciate the huge variety of sporting opportunities available at MIT for students at many levels of mastery. But given that I didn’t even know what the rules were for a lot of the sports I was watching (i.e. water polo), it was hard to know how good MIT’s varsity teams really are. I just found out.

This year, MIT’s Women’s Soccer team won their conference, NEWMAC! NEWMAC is a conference including Babson, Clark, Smith, Wellesley, Wheaton, Mount Holyoke, WPI, and of course MIT. After winning their conference, the MIT team went to the NCAA Championship tournament for the first time in program history. They were knocked out of the tournament by Rowan University. This week, I met with two players from this year’s Championship team to find out more about playing a varsity sport at MIT.

Liz is a senior, majoring in Mechanical Engineering (course 2) and Math (course 18). She’s been playing soccer since she was 8, and specializing as a striker since high school. Her profile on the MIT Intercollegiate Athletics site has a long list of achievements.

Meghan is a freshman, and she is considering majoring in Aerospace Engineering (course 16) or Mechanical Engineering (course 2). She’s been playing soccer since she was 4 (!) and is one of two goalies on MIT’s team. Her profile on MIT’s site also lists plenty of achievements, including leading her high school team to two state championships.

Looking at their lists of accomplishments in soccer, you can tell that these women are not only extremely talented, but also dedicated to their sport. Sports players are among the first students to arrive in the fall and practice twice per day before the school year starts. Even after school starts, they practice for two hours every day and travel to games on the weekends. As a reminder, this is MIT. Many students struggle to find time to sleep without playing a varsity sport.

But, Liz and Meghan insist, excelling at sports is possible for busy MIT students. Playing a sport helps them to develop their time-management skills and gives them a strong focus. Meghan told me that having such a full schedule during soccer season actually helps her to get more work done than she would otherwise. Besides this, the team supports each other. For instance, before the last freshman physics exam, two of the upperclassmen put together an informal review session for the freshmen on the team.

Liz ’10 and Meghan ’13

Working together so closely as a team and as MIT students has made this group very close. Team members will often eat dinner together, and most players stick with the team all four years. When I asked Liz and Meghan what their favorite memories from this season were, they told me about winning the NEWMAC Conference — but first they told me about the ‘goal dance’ one of the freshmen on the team did after scoring her first goal.

The soccer team holds open tryouts for MIT students, and they also recruit high school students. The recruiting process is largely about showing high school students that MIT can be a great athletic experience as well as an academic one; athletes still go through the normal admission process.

I hope that this post has been useful to some high school athletes out there. Let me know what other questions you have about soccer or other athletics at MIT; I’ll do my best to find answers.

P.S. I’m not really sure why I’m writing in pink — Liz and Meghan asked me to do it because “it’s a soccer bonding thing.”

P.P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

15 responses to “MIT Women’s Soccer”

  1. makesense says:

    Congratulations to the soccer team! I am an aspiring student-athlete for cross country/track. I was wondering if you know about how long they usually practice each day?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey makesense, I’m actually on the xc and track teams here! Most sports have practice 5pm-7pm and some, including xc/track, include a morning effort on our own each day. Like Soccer, we won NEWMACs and went to Nationals. Sports are definitely legit at MIT!

    For anyone aspiring to join a sports team, don’t be afraid to contact the coach! (look at the mit athletics page for contact info)

  3. Yeah sistas! Pink forever smile

  4. makesense says:

    Thanks for the info! I am definitely looking forward to applying/going for the team next year (I’m a junior). Good job at NEWMACs! It’s really amazing that MIT is so accomplished in both schooling and athletics.

  5. Michaelann says:

    Congratulations on a great season!

  6. Anonymous says:

    congrats! also checkout the MIT varsity sailing team.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Even if you are not recruited but are good enough to be on the team (albeit one of the worse players) could this help in admissions? I play tennis and looked up the rankings of the current students at MIT. Though my team reached the Texas 5A state finals, I’m only ranked higher than one player so I probably wont be able to be recruited, though my SAT scores and the like are on par with MITs students.

    I was wondering (if you know) if a probable walk on status could have any affect on the admissions process (other than showing commitment to an activity) if you demonstrate you have other interests as well?

  8. kimd says:

    My understanding is that either way (recruited or not) it would not affect the admissions process. As you mentioned, showing commitment to an activity is something that is great to do. Excelling at it is great, too. These are what the admissions office is going to care about.

    Taking the example of the soccer team, Liz and Meghan told me that a couple dozen are recruited by the women’s soccer coach every year. The actual number of those that get to play on the team varies a lot. When Liz was a freshman only 4 of the recruited players made it through and joined the team. This year, 11 did.

  9. Anonymous says:

    thanks for the help kimd!

    they recruit a couple dozen? wow, that seems like a lot of graduating seniors each year.

    @ makesense: Unless the sailing team is of significantly lower quality than the tennis team I dont think that one summer gives you the experience required for walk on status. When I was calculating my hours for tennis in high school it was something like 5500 hours and I still probably wont make the team

  10. Anonymous says:

    unless it is for club or intramural, then i think you will be fine smile

  11. makesense says:

    If I don’t end up with xc/track, my second choice sport would be sailing. However, does anyone know if sailing is walk-on or not? Since I have had minimal sailing experience (one summer with FJs and lasers) yet I really enjoyed it. Would this be sufficient experience to join the team? And do we need to sail for the entire year? (I noticed the schedule is year-round).

  12. Anonymous says:

    @makesense: sailing is year round, there is only one division. MIT varsity sailing team competes with the majority of colleges from division I. If you are interested, talk to the coaches and the team, I’m sure they will let you try.

  13. Nicole '10 says:

    @anonymous (both of you, actually – sailing anonymous and tennis anonymous): even if you don’t think you’re the best at your sport, you have absolutely nothing to lose by attempting to get in touch with a coach. I can’t speak for all sports, as some are certainly more competitive than others, but I was the worst one (literally, the worst, out of a team of 24 girls I don’t think I ever ranked higher than 21st on erg times) on my high school crew team and the MIT coach was still more than happy to meet with me at the boathouse and put an ‘orange card’ in my application file (apparently that’s the official way to designate that you’re being recruited) – since rowing is an uncommon sport, not a lot of people come into college with experience – I suspect that sailing may be the same way. I’ll never know whether it actually affected my admission (and in a way, I kind of hope it didn’t), but I’m certainly glad I did it.

    And being “recruited” doesn’t really mean that much – since there are no sports scholarships, there are no binding commitments, just because you meet with a coach doesn’t mean you’re committing yourself to playing that sport in college. I spent all of 3 weeks on the MIT crew team (after 5 years of rowing in middle/hs), decided that I’d rather use this opportunity to try something new, quit and joined the Tae Kwon Do team instead. So really, you have nothing to lose by trying to get in touch with a coach – you may hear back and you may not, but expressing interest is never a bad thing.

    Also, re: the couple dozen thing, that makes sense, since there’s no guarantee that a) all those people will actually be admitted and b) that they’ll actually play even if they do get in to MIT.

  14. Anonymous says:

    that makes sense, thanks for the help nicole

    -tennis anonymous smile

  15. makesense says:

    Thanks for all the help/response regarding xc/track/sailing everyone!