Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Present at the Creation Julia Cartwright Looks Back

Photos by Jenny Cartwright | Julia Cartwright holds game ball presented to her by Coach Watt and the team. From left: Elizabeth Schultheis, Teagan Havemeier, Marisa Roath, Olivia Watt, Julia Wagner, Mgr. Camden Jones, Asst. Coach John Ball, Lexi Harrington, Asst. Coach Darrin Palumbo, Anna Chamberlin, Head Coach Jim Watt, Julia Cartwright, Morgan Jones, Kayla Kladis, Asst. Coach Omar Rodriguez, Danya Zarate, Ellie Ball, Lauren Faremouth, and Jenna Palumbo.

Photos by Jenny Cartwright | Julia Cartwright holds game ball presented to her by Coach Watt and the team. From left: Elizabeth Schultheis, Teagan Havemeier, Marisa Roath, Olivia Watt, Julia Wagner, Mgr. Camden Jones, Asst. Coach John Ball, Lexi Harrington, Asst. Coach Darrin Palumbo, Anna Chamberlin, Head Coach Jim Watt, Julia Cartwright, Morgan Jones, Kayla Kladis, Asst. Coach Omar Rodriguez, Danya Zarate, Ellie Ball, Lauren Faremouth, and Jenna Palumbo.

By Barry Gwinn

In the space of just four years, the Marco Island Academy (MIA) girls soccer team has gone from being the laughing stock of the league to being the team that no one wants to play. Julia Cartwright remembers it all. Julia is graduating this year with plans to major in elementary education and minor in women’s studies at college. She has so far been accepted at the University of Nebraska and has plans to become a teacher. Julia grew up in Goodland, loved the experience of living here and says that she thinks it allowed her to stay younger longer. (I think the same thing.) She is the only senior and remaining player from the hapless and star-crossed team of 2013 which didn’t come close to winning a game or even scoring a goal. She is, by all accounts, the most popular and respected member of the team today. I asked Julia to put together some reminiscences of her MIA soccer experience, anticipating that I would use some quotes from it for an article. When I saw it, I was astounded that a high schooler could write something so erudite and perceptive. I couldn’t improve on it and include it verbatim here:

Having heard that there hadn’t been a [MIA] girls soccer team the year before my freshman year [2012-13], I was excited to hear when tryouts were announced. Even though we barely had enough to form a normal-sized soccer team I was still enthusiastic about the season in the beginning. I have loved soccer since I started playing in fourth grade and I was proud to represent my school through something I loved doing. I was in for a lot more than I could have expected. 

The larger majority of the girls on the team were new to soccer, making us an inexperienced team. It was a rare game day when the whole team would actually show up to games. Due to this, we often played with nine girls, and most teams we opposed would refuse to match our number of girls and continued playing with eleven. I remember there was one game day I was really sick and throwing up at school, but if I didn’t play the team would have had to play with eight. We lost every single game that year, most of them being mercies. Even if the score reaches 8-0, the mercy rule doesn’t enact until half time. Because of this, many of goals scored against us were in the double digits. Our team did not score one goal the whole season. We went into games with the mentality that trying to keep the ball out of the net was the only goal.

I remember thinking that it didn’t feel like a team. We didn’t have the best team bond and verbal arguments often broke out about silly mistakes that someone had made; often blame was pushed on each other. I missed feeling like I was a part of a team and having an atmosphere of support. Going into every game with the knowledge that we would lose badly made it hard for me to keep loving soccer. It was degrading to go to games and hear the other team and their supporters laugh at our mistakes and the score. I once heard one onlooker ask another “Why are we even playing them? This is pathetic; our girls shouldn’t have to lower themselves to them.” Even other students from our own school were laughing at us, and I heard jokes being exchanged every time it was announced that there was a girls soccer game. I would be lying to say that I never asked myself why I kept playing or that I didn’t consider not doing soccer for the rest of high school. Whenever I expressed this aloud to my mom, she said that I was playing so that girls who wanted to play soccer at [MIA] in the future, including my two younger sisters, could play. She would remind me that we could only improve. While I rolled my eyes at the time, I see now how right she was. 

I had made a conscious decision to go to [MIA] instead of the school that Marco students are technically zoned for, Lely High School. I chose to go down the unpopular path and choose the unpopular decision that going to [MIA] was at the time. I felt that quitting soccer would be giving up on that decision. I was and still am proud of my school and all of the values it stands for and I felt like failing to represent it through something I loved to do, would have been like a betrayal. So despite the fact that part of me wanted to quit, I became a sort of a leader on the team, resulting in me being rewarded with MVP at the end of the year.

My sophomore year, only two of the girls from the year before decided to return, I being one of them. Coach Watt became the new coach, and we gained quite a few very talented freshmen girls, including Olivia Watt, Elizabeth Schultheis, Julia Wagner, Danya Zarate and Kayla Kladis. This team created the atmosphere I had missed my freshman year. It felt like we were a family. Much more positivity was going around and I felt like we were improving. The memory that really sticks with me from that season is when Olivia Watt made history by shooting the first goal ever in MIA history. I remember being so elated that we had even scored a goal at all. I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down with pride. I remember knowing that everyone probably thought I was a little crazy for being excited over ONE goal. But after not scoring even one the year before, it felt like the biggest thing in the world. 

My junior year we had our first win. I can’t quite recall how many wins we had total that year, but I don’t think it was more than four. I remember how incredible it felt to finally win. I was so numbed, and so used to losing that the joy I felt was on another level. I didn’t even mind that it had taken this long to win. All of the losses made the winning SO much more worth it. 

Fast forward to this year. Our record was 8-9-1, and while some would probably consider that to be a disappointing record, I think it’s truly one of the most remarkable things that has happened to me in my lifetime. The improvement that has happened before my eyes is something out of a movie and it still feels surreal. I know the freshman still think I am crazy for crying after wins and crying on the nights of my few last home games. After countless games and practices on the same field that I’ve played on since a little girl, it doesn’t feel over. I still can’t believe I won’t be running through the pre-game routine with Olivia, or passing the ball up to Teagan next year. 

The thought that I won’t be returning to my soccer family next year breaks my heart. Coach Watt and the girls on the team have made my senior year and my time in high school so special. The endless love and support I have received while playing soccer at [MIA] is a unique one, one you don’t come across every day, one that I don’t think I would have found at any other school. My experience at MIA has taught me that sports aren’t and shouldn’t be about winning. A high school sports team’s success should not be measured by the amount of wins. It should be about the love for your team and your dedication to the sport and the effort you put into it. At Marco Island Academy, those are things I have never

Submitted Photo | Julia Cartwright

Submitted Photo | Julia Cartwright

lost sight of. 

In the space of just four years, the Marco Island Academy (MIA) girls soccer team has gone from being the laughing stock of the league to being the team that no one wants to play. Julia Cartwright remembers it all. Julia is graduating this year with plans to major in elementary education and minor in women’s studies at college. She has so far been accepted at the University of Nebraska and has plans to become a teacher. Julia grew up in Goodland, loved the experience of living here and says that she thinks it allowed her to stay younger longer. (I think the same thing.) She is the only senior and remaining player from the hapless and star-crossed team of 2013 which didn’t come close to winning a game or even scoring a goal. She is, by all accounts, the most popular and respected member of the team today. I asked Julia to put together some reminiscences of her MIA soccer experience, anticipating that I would use some quotes from it for an article. When I saw it, I was astounded that a high schooler could write something so erudite and perceptive. I couldn’t improve on it and include it verbatim here:

Having heard that there hadn’t been a [MIA] girls soccer team the year before my freshman year [2012-13], I was excited to hear when tryouts were announced. Even though we barely had enough to form a normal-sized soccer team I was still enthusiastic about the season in the beginning. I have loved soccer since I started playing in fourth grade and I was proud to represent my school through something I loved doing. I was in for a lot more than I could have expected. 

The larger majority of the girls on the team were new to soccer, making us an inexperienced team. It was a rare game day when the whole team would actually show up to games. Due to this, we often played with nine girls, and most teams we opposed would refuse to match our number of girls and continued playing with eleven. I remember there was one game day I was really sick and throwing up at school, but if I didn’t play the team would have had to play with eight. We lost every single game that year, most of them being mercies. Even if the score reaches 8-0, the mercy rule doesn’t enact until half time. Because of this, many of goals scored against us were in the double digits. Our team did not score one goal the whole season. We went into games with the mentality that trying to keep the ball out of the net was the only goal. 

I remember thinking that it didn’t feel like a team. We didn’t have the best team bond and verbal arguments often broke out about silly mistakes that someone had made; often blame was pushed on each other. I missed feeling like I was a part of a team and having an atmosphere of support. Going into every game with the knowledge that we would lose badly made it hard for me to keep loving soccer. It was degrading to go to games and hear the other team and their supporters laugh at our mistakes and the score. I once heard one onlooker ask another “Why are we even playing them? This is pathetic; our girls shouldn’t have to lower themselves to them.” Even other students from our own school were laughing at us, and I heard jokes being exchanged every time it was announced that there was a girls soccer game. I would be lying to say that I never asked myself why I kept playing or that I didn’t consider not doing soccer for the rest of high school. Whenever I expressed this aloud to my mom, she said that I was playing so that girls who wanted to play soccer at [MIA] in the future, including my two younger sisters, could play. She would remind me that we could only improve. While I rolled my eyes at the time, I see now how right she was. 

I had made a conscious decision to go to [MIA] instead of the school that Marco students are technically zoned for, Lely High School. I chose to go down the unpopular path and choose the unpopular decision that going to [MIA] was at the time. I felt that quitting soccer would be giving up on that decision. I was and still am proud of my school and all of the values it stands for and I felt like failing to represent it through something I loved to do, would have been like a betrayal. So despite the fact that part of me wanted to quit, I became a sort of a leader on the team, resulting in me being rewarded with MVP at the end of the year.

My sophomore year, only two of the girls from the year before decided to return, I being one of them. Coach Watt became the new coach, and we gained quite a few very talented freshmen girls, including Olivia Watt, Elizabeth Schultheis, Julia Wagner, Danya Zarate and Kayla Kladis. This team created the atmosphere I had missed my freshman year. It felt like we were a family. Much more positivity was going around and I felt like we were improving. The memory that really sticks with me from that season is when Olivia Watt made history by shooting the first goal ever in MIA history. I remember being so elated that we had even scored a goal at all. I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down with pride. I remember knowing that everyone probably thought I was a little crazy for being excited over ONE goal. But after not scoring even one the year before, it felt like the biggest thing in the world. 

My junior year we had our first win. I can’t quite recall how many wins we had total that year, but I don’t think it was more than four. I remember how incredible it felt to finally win. I was so numbed, and so used to losing that the joy I felt was on another level. I didn’t even mind that it had taken this long to win. All of the losses made the winning SO much more worth it. 

Fast forward to this year. Our record was 8-9-1, and while some would probably consider that to be a disappointing record, I think it’s truly one of the most remarkable things that has happened to me in my lifetime. The improvement that has happened before my eyes is something out of a movie and it still feels surreal. I know the freshman still think I am crazy for crying after wins and crying on the nights of my few last home games. After countless games and practices on the same field that I’ve played on since a little girl, it doesn’t feel over. I still can’t believe I won’t be running through the pre-game routine with Olivia, or passing the ball up to Teagan next year. 

The thought that I won’t be returning to my soccer family next year breaks my heart. Coach Watt and the girls on the team have made my senior year and my time in high school so special. The endless love and support I have received while playing soccer at [MIA] is a unique one, one you don’t come across every day, one that I don’t think I would have found at any other school. My experience at MIA has taught me that sports aren’t and shouldn’t be about winning. A high school sports team’s success should not be measured by the amount of wins. It should be about the love for your team and your dedication to the sport and the effort you put into it. At Marco Island Academy, those are things I have never lost sight of. 

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