Iowa soccer’s freshmen adjusting during unusual times

With no games in the immediate future, the freshmen have had more time to adjust than they previously would have.


Shivansh Ahuja

The Iowa Soccer Complex is seen during a women’s soccer match between Iowa and Western Michigan on Thursday, August 22, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Broncos, 2-0. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

Typically, freshmen on the Iowa soccer team would have experienced their first college game by now.

Due to the Big Ten’s postponement of fall sports amid concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, that hasn’t yet happened this season. The team is still practicing, though, and the freshmen are adjusting in these unusual times.

“For me, it seems pretty easy because the coaching staff and all the girls were extremely welcoming,” freshman midfielder/forward Maggie Johnston said. “So, for us, the only thing that’s different is having to wear a mask, everything else is the same and I just love it because everybody was so welcoming and it wasn’t a hard transition at all because they made it seem pretty normal in a time of pandemic and stress.”

Head coach Dave DiIanni has been impressed with how other players on the team have helped the freshmen adjust, especially one group.

“I’ve been very proud of the junior class in particular for that support,” DiIanni said. “And but also the environment and the culture they’ve created for the freshmen to be successful in.”

DiIanni added that the junior class sees the freshmen class as a mirror image, with members of both having had many accolades prior to coming to Iowa, such as winning in their club careers.

Though the postponement wasn’t ideal for the program, there’s a silver lining to that.

“Normally, preseason’s only 12 days,” freshman midfielder Rielee Fetty said. “So, we’ve been together for like three weeks and just having the opportunity to be on the field and playing with contact and just getting touches and grow as a team, not only on the field but off.”

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A native of Clarkston, Michigan, Fetty said that seven out of the nine freshmen on the team live in Petersen Hall. All four of the freshmen girls from Michigan purposely didn’t room together so that they would make new relationships with their fellow freshmen teammates.

The girls that live in the residence halls hangout outside of practice and like to play volleyball, walk downtown, and eat together.

The freshmen are also incorporating themselves into the family environment that the team has previously established, and DiIanni is explicitly instilling that message into them.

“The key to success is embracing and contributing to the family culture is a family environment,” DiIanni said. “Understanding that when they came to practice, when they came to train and step on that line, they have to compete, and that’s not only what’s going to be accepted, that’s what’s going to be required of them.

“Then, at the end of competing and challenging one another to be better, then they can flip the switch and go back to being a family member of the family and embracing one another.”

With the chance of playing in the spring, everyone on the team is doing their part to make that a reality — including the freshmen.

“We’ve all been working super hard just implementing things such as social distancing, wearing our mask, and getting tested every week just so that we can continue to grow and have a season,” Fetty said.

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