Athlete of the Week: Erin Onat, Senior, Women’s Soccer

After watching the men’s soccer team rise to unprecedented heights and attain a #1 national ranking last season, the women’s team decided it was their turn to shine. The Lady Orediggers started their season with a 7-0 record, the best in program history. During that stretch, Mines outscored their opponents 23-3 and went undefeated in conference play. The #10 Orediggers are now 7-1 overall and have high expectations for the rest of the season as they look to surpass their Elite 8 appearance in the 2009 NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament.

As the women’s team has risen, senior chemical engineer Erin Onat has been at the center of the action. Through all of last season, Onat scored only four goals. She has already matched that mark and last week alone tallied two goals and an assist during the first two games of conference play. Among all RMAC players, her four goals are tied for fourth-best and with 10 total points, she sits at fifth overall.

Onat’s time at CSM has been the epitome of a successful Mines career, marked with perseverance and hard work through difficult situations. The chemical engineer from Littleton, Colorado did not immediately thrive upon her arrival at Mines as she battled injuries throughout her first three years. She continued to fight and press on even when things were not going her way, and now, as evidenced by her current success, her hard work is paying off. For her accomplishments and continued perseverance, Onat is this week’s Athlete of the Week.

[Oredigger] What has made this current team so successful?
[Onat] We are playing the best soccer that we ever have. We have become a better passing team, and it’s turning out perfectly so far.
This is the first team I’ve played on where everyone is good with everyone else and we’ve all come together so well. There’s something about Mines girls on a team together; we all have something in common with school.

What is your favorite part about playing soccer?
I’ve played since I was four, and I love that feeling when you hit the ball just right. I love feeling like I’m in shape, and it’s so much easier to exercise when you have a ball to run after.

How do you balance your athletic and academic lives?
(laughs) It hasn’t been easy. I try to get homework done early, but most of the time that doesn’t really happen. But I’ll do homework with my teammates that are in my major and grade. They help out a lot, and I go to a lot of office hours.

What has been the hardest part about playing soccer at Mines?
Definitely the time that soccer takes away from studying. I did the math and it can be anywhere around 15 hours of work a week, and most of that time is during prime study time. But it’s definitely been worth it.

What is something that nobody knows about you?
I’m a twin and, some people already know this, but I’m half Turkish and have been to Turkey three times.

How are you approaching this, your final season?
One of my senior teammates and I were talking about this. We’ve basically said that this is our last year so we’re going to just leave it all out there, because we’ve got nothing to lose. We’ll just always give it that extra push to do what we need to do.

It’ll be really hard to leave soccer. I’ve been pretty competitive for a long time, but I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life. I’m always going to play soccer, though, wherever I can.

How has your role changed as a senior athlete?
My role definitely becomes more of a leadership role. Girls ask for advice, like I did, about which teachers to take, and how to approach a class. It’s really great to have this and try to be leader for them.

What has been your favorite class?
Biochemistry, we had the best teacher ever.

What has been your least favorite class?
Just one? Oh, it would have to be organic chemistry.

After enduring four years at Mines, what advice do you have for incoming students?
Well, for soccer players I would definitely say that you need to come in in as good physical shape as you can.
For student athletes, I would say just come in ready to work really hard, manage your time really well, and stay on top of your assignments.

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