Oct. 29, 2013
The following is the sixth installment of a biweekly blog that senior Madeline (Maddy) Barker is penning for the Georgia soccer team during the 2013 season. Her blogs will be published exclusively on Georgiadogs.com.
By Maddy Barker
What an incredible weekend to be a Georgia Bulldog.
We came home Sunday with two enormous wins over LSU and Arkansas to sweep the weekend, ensuring us a guaranteed spot at the SEC Tournament. I could not be any happier with our team’s effort and performance. We played with a sense of urgency that I have only seen in brief spurts throughout the season. However, this weekend, we completed two full games with that level of urgency, and it paid off tremendously for us. There are so many reasons why I believe this team has the potential to achieve great things in the remainder of the season, but what convinces me the most comes from the messages we heard before each game.
On Friday night, freshman Marion Crowder stood up and spoke to us.
She was speaking on behalf of the entire group of underclassmen (anyone who is not a senior) and she did so with poise, confidence and grace. Marion told us that we, as seniors, had led the team to this moment, and that they knew what this weekend meant to us. Our team needed to secure two wins to guarantee that our season would not end after the last regular-season game. She told us that it was no longer our job to carry the team, but that the younger ones, who still have so many games left in their collegiate careers to play, would lead us for a change. This not only reassured me that they knew the high stakes we were playing for, but they also understood what it may feel like as a senior to watch our career come to a close and how emotionally taxing that can be. Her words brought a sense of calm urgency over our team, and I knew we were ready to take the field. Her words were not empty: she absolutely backed her words with performance, and two freshmen, Marion and Rachel Garcia, were the goal-scorers against LSU. What a feeling that was! To have beaten LSU in Baton Rouge on their senior night, and winning on their field for the first time since 2000 - I can’t even express how happy our entire team and staff felt on Friday night. I was so grateful for Marion, and for the rest of our team, to have stepped it up and played lights-out, bringing us one game closer to Orange Beach.
We enjoyed Friday night, but we quickly got down to business on Saturday when we traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas. Arkansas has had a phenomenal season and we knew that this was going to be a tough game. They have speed up top, and the leg power to get it there. Before Sunday’s game, Coach Dan Blank got up to speak and to motivate us as he routinely does before games. This time felt different, though. He told us a quick story about how something so small can completely change your perspective on what’s important, and what this weekend meant to him. He said this weekend was about Marion’s pledge to the seniors. It’s about our teammates at home who were unable to be with us on this trip. It’s about Katrin and Chris, our strength trainers, who showed up to our bus departure on Thursday morning to read an inspirational poem they had written to wish us well. It’s about not taking this game for granted, because in an instant, what you know and love can be taken from you. This game is about so much more than the materialistic things we are given… the charter planes, the gear we wear, the nice meals and beautiful hotels. Dan reminded us that this game is about using the God-given talent we all have, playing to each other’s strengths, and stringing together a beautiful 90-minute soccer game, loving one another as teammates and sisters as we go along.
This year has been such a learning experience for me. It has taught me how to appreciate my blessings and to be grateful for the opportunities God has given to me and my teammates.
We have a huge opportunity Thursday night, our senior night, to beat Florida for the first time in my class’ career. We have set our minds to win the SEC Tournament for the first time in program history. What do we have to lose? Everything is up for grabs, and this season is far from over in my eyes.
Stay tuned as the Bulldogs keep trucking along, closer and closer to achieving our goals.