Women’s club soccer strives to build on first-season successes

by Katelyn McLean | Staff writer

 In its first official season, Whitworth women’s club soccer hopes to create a competitive environment for those who love soccer without the large time commitment of Division III sports.

The women’s club soccer team is still affiliated with Whitworth, but practices three to four times a week—more frequently than intramural soccer, but less than the Division III team.

“I don’t think I would have enough time to do every day, but I still wanted something challenging to push me and keep me active,” freshman outside defender Heather Gengo said. 

The team is comprised of twenty athletes who are coached by senior Alex Lopez, according to the team’s gofundme.com page. 

“Everyone is super fun, super, nice. I remember my first day, because I’m a freshman, everyone was very outgoing and they would all try to get to know me and figure out what my name was, and ask me why I’m playing soccer,” Gengo said. 

The team, founded by Juniors McKenna Gilbert and Jewel Bender, participates in both a fall and spring season. 

In their first season last fall, the team went 2-1-1 against Gonzaga University, Washington State University, Central Washington University, and Eastern Washington University. 

The team has two tournaments planned for the spring season already, and hopes to double the amount of games they will play from fall season. 

The fall season spanned from late September to November, but the team stayed active during the break between seasons.

“Our coach, he’s awesome, he set up a super detailed plan and a workout schedule. It’s three days a week and an hour and a half each, and we’d be in the U-Rec lifting weights, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we’d also do indoor soccer in Graves Gym or the U-Rec just to keep up with our ball touches,” Gengo said. 

Although the team has planned two tournaments for their spring season, being a club team and not a Division III sport presents a few extra hurdles.

“Unfortunately, we have limited funding which forces us to pay out of pocket for these two events,” the gofundme.com page reads. The team’s page was set up in order to raise money to cover entry fees and gas to and from the tournaments. 

As for the future of the team, the hope is simply to keep the program running, and to continue the welcoming and encouraging environment the team already has.

 “We just want to play as much as we can, get girls on the team who want to get better at soccer, and just have a place for girls to come together and play soccer and have fun and work hard,” Gengo said. 

The team’s Instagram account, @whitworthclubsoccer, has helped the team to create a welcoming environment, encouraging those who were interested in playing club soccer to message the account for details about getting involved with the team.   

The team held a meeting on Feb. 1, welcoming all new players that were interested in joining the club soccer team and providing information about their spring season.