Taylor T. Bern

The sky is the limit for women’s soccer candidates with championship experience

by Taylor T. Bern September 20, 2010 in Women's Soccer


Every time Amanda DaCosta takes the field for Florida State, the same message is written on the underside of her wrist: “The sky’s the limit.”

“It just reminds me that you can go as far as you want to go if you let yourself,” DaCosta said.

It’s a sentiment shared by all 30 of the candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, specifically those whose teams have reached the ultimate stage in women’s soccer.

Five of this year’s candidates have been on teams that played in the Women’s College Cup final in the last three years. In 2007 DaCosta’s Seminoles lost to Alyssa Dávila and Southern California. And the last two seasons, Ali Hawkins helped lead North Carolina to back-to-back national championships, first against Notre Dame (Lauren Fowlkes) and then Stanford (Christen Press). Each player has put in countless hours of practice working toward her on-field goals. But it’s their ability to balance that work with efforts in the classroom and community that make them worthy of distinction. Whether it’s teamwork, time management or the pursuit of goals, these seniors have excelled in all of their endeavors.

“Every single lesson you’re taught on the field has a direct application to life,” Hawkins said.

The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award honors senior student-athletes who exemplify the four Cs — community, classroom, character and competition. On the field, this group has the credentials in full.

Fowlkes, Hawkins and Press began 2010 on the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Watch List. DaCosta and Press each scored game-winners in their respective semifinals, effectively sending their teams to the championship game. And Fowlkes is the only one who didn’t log significant minutes in the title game. Instead, she was called to the United States’ U20 team. On the same day Notre Dame played for the national championship, Fowlkes started for the U.S. team and won the 2008 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup. The Americans were also awarded the tournament’s Fair Play trophy.

“It was a journey and it’s something that you’ll always remember,” Fowlkes said.

This group’s work on the pitch is matched only by the accomplishments in their respective classrooms and communities.

“I know I have to get my work done,” said Press, who boasts a 3.61 GPA and recently developed a tutoring program at a Palo Alto elementary school. “It’s not an option, so I don’t procrastinate.”

Dávila volunteers with several campus and community organizations, including Athletes in Action, a Christian group for student-athletes through which she’s worked with USC’s administration to formulate an alcohol education policy.

“These projects entail utilizing my role as a student-athlete to encourage and serve my peers and those that are younger than me in an effort to share Christ’s love,” Dávila said.

One of DaCosta’s projects is a free soccer instruction clinic for local boys and girls, many of whom she sees in the stands on gamedays.

“They’re so passionate about us and they get so excited to see us, and it makes you feel like you’re a good role model for them,” DaCosta said.

Fowlkes said she relies on an inner drive for success, whether that’s on the field, in class or around South Bend, Ind., where she’s helped with Habitat for Humanity and Read to Achieve in local elementary schools.

“It’s having an appreciation for the community that you’re in and trying to then go ahead and give something back to that community and be a part of it,” Fowlkes said.

When Hawkins finishes school, she plans to go into investment banking. Eventually, though, the double major in economics and political science with a 3.8 GPA would like to explore economic development in foreign countries.

This group reaches for the sky in every category, and it’s all possible because they’ve taken the lessons from their sport — most notably teamwork — and applied them to all walks of life.

“Ultimately it wasn’t the championships that really mattered,” Hawkins said. “Even though it’s great to win and it gives you a sense of accomplishment, it’s kind of forgotten at the end of the day because the girls are what really make it.”