For senior civil engineer Jessica Stark, playing for the women’s soccer team has been more than a game. “It is a great experience” the defender commented, “Everyone thinks that as a student athlete, you learn the most about your sport, but I learned more on how to be apart team, manage my time, make friendships, work together, and just how to do life.” Stark, entering her final year as a Lady Oredigger, scored a pivotal goal in last Wednesday’s home playoff game against Metro State that led to a 2-1 overtime victory for Mines. Over the last four years, she has shored up a solid defensive unit that sent the 2009 team to the Elite 8 in the NCAA division II tournament.
This year Stark is third on the team in goals (5) and points (11). The Lady Orediggers fell to Fort Lewis 3-1 Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the RMAC tournament. The team, ranked 5th in the central region prior to the loss, will find out if they will earn an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. But no matter the outcome of the season, Stark had made her mark on CSM soccer. For her efforts during the 2010 playoffs and her overall contribution during her career, she is this week’s Athlete of the Week.
[Oredigger] What is it like to be a senior and see the end of your soccer career in sight?
[Stark] It’s bittersweet because I know it is the last year. But I’m taking more of a leadership role this year and I’ve enjoyed playing for four years. I’m not taking any different of an approach to these games, though. Each one might be my last, or I could get one more, but I want to enjoy the moment and not get caught in the emotion.
What did the overtime win against Metro State mean to you?
It was an amazing feeling. It was intense during overtime, waiting and waiting. We had to be intense on defense, but we were so eager to win, it was really hard to patient.
What other sports do you enjoy?
I was a swimmer in high school and it was alright. I figured out early that I didn’t want to do track because of the running, so I got into soccer competitively.
Looking back, what have been some of your greatest memories at Mines?
Probably the bus rides. We had a great time watching movies and laughing and just being girls. Sometimes, with the tough schedule here, we miss out on the typical college life, and it was nice to just enjoy the bus rides. We developed kind of a sister hood actually.
What was the hardest transition into Mines?
Getting used to the altitude really. The fitness and altitude. I run, but in short bursts, kind of like a linebacker
In your four years here, what was your favorite class?
I liked a lot of them actually. But it would probably be my design classes, steel and concrete. It’s more of problem solving. You are given problems and you have to figure out a way to deal with them, which I think is really cool.
Least favorite class?
Chemistry and calculus. I still have no idea what a mole is.
What advice would you give to younger student athletes at Mines?
Remember that you’re a student playing soccer. Prioritize your life and take care of yourself. Hone your skills, like time management and study habits. But also remember that youre at college, and it is a great opportunity to be exposed to different experiences.
School is fun, soccer is fun, and just enjoy your time.
What is one thing you wished you knew about college when you started?
Everything will be okay. When oyu get bogged down and have three test and three games in a week, knowing that you wil get through and it will all be okay.
What will be the biggest takeaway you will have from being a student athlete at CSM?
Just the memories and the experiences. It taught me to work hard, play hard and party hard (but I don’t mean that I’m a partier).