by Jenny He, Sports Reporter
photo contributed by Audrey Lavey
‘19 graduate Audrey Lavey is unstoppable on the soccer field. A 2019 recipient of the Mendelson Award, the star athlete leads an outstanding soccer career. Over her high school career, she was a three-time Eastern Massachusetts All-Star and she was the Dual County League (DCL) Player of the Year as a sophomore. She holds South’s all-time record of 82 total goals over the course of her high school career and was a two-time Boston Globe and Boston Herald All-Scholastic.
Lavey’s journey to Wesleyan University started during her freshman year of high school, when she began attending recruitment events to advertise her skills to college coaches.
“I started going to a clinic, where they had five to 10 coaches at different colleges and universities. There were hundreds of girls and [coaches] would watch us all play, and Wesleyan was at a couple of them,” she said. “I talked to the [Wesleyan] coaches, and I was pretty interested.”
The combination of good academics and outstanding athletics at Wesleyan was important to Lavey, and she was dedicated to putting in the work. Through making direct efforts to gain the interest of Wesleyan coaches, Lavey was able to secure a spot on the soccer team.
“I went to a couple of individual camps,” she said. “The only reason I was there would be for Wesleyan to see me.”
While the coaches drew her to Wesleyan, she also made sure to consider other factors besides athletics before making her decision.
“One of the things that factored in a lot for me was if I got hurt and wasn’t able to play soccer, would I want to be there? What would I want to learn there? Because you can’t revolve your whole life around the sport,” she said.
Lavey verbally committed to Wesleyan a few months into her junior year after the university offered her a spot on the team that summer. Lavey’s position wasn’t made official until later that year.
Lavey said that college has reinvigorated her love for her sport. Before last year’s season was cut short by the pandemic, then-freshman Lavey started nearly every match.
However, with an augmented level of commitment and more competition from passionate athletes, the intensity of college sports requires trade offs.
“In college, you have a lot less time in the classroom, but more schoolwork to do outside of the classroom,” Lavey said. “We had a few weekday games that you’d have to miss class and email professors, [of] which they are all really understanding.”
Even so, Wesleyan offers plenty of opportunities for students in unique situations. For example, the availability of morning classes allows Lavey to finish school in time for soccer practice.
College sports may call for the challenge of juggling commitments, but they also create an environment for student-athletes to form even closer bonds with their teammates, Lavey said.
“The team is a huge part of your social circle because you’re spending so much time together, traveling to games that practice every single day,” she said.
Because of the pandemic, Wesleyan’s competitive soccer season was cancelled this year. Nevertheless, the team still met regularly, both virtually and physically, to stay in top form.
“We did team Zoom workouts,” Lavey said. “Luckily, we were able to practice. We practice socially distantly. We did pods of 10 people, and you were only allowed to interact with those people,” Lavey said.
Even though many aspects of soccer were made more complicated due to COVID-19 restrictions, Lavey said that there were some unexpected benefits of spending a season off the field.
“It’s definitely frustrating because all of us just wanted to be playing,” she said. “It helped me grow as a player in ways that I probably wouldn’t have. I had to get better foot skills, and I had to be in better shape.”
Looking back at her times at South, Lavey encourages students at South to cherish their high school experience.
“Enjoy those moments because you’re not going to get similar ones again. College is a completely different ballgame,” she said.