Nov. 2, 2007
How would you like to be the last line of defense on the soccer field knowing that your next move could make or break the game?
For many this would be a daunting task, but to junior goalkeeper Katie Shelton this is just another day on the job.
Shelton, a health and physical education major from Hendersonville, Tenn., has proven to be a formidable force on the soccer field.
She was named to the All-Atlantic Sun Conference Second Team in 2006 and was also named Player of the Week. However, perhaps her greatest accomplishment is being No. 1 in the NCAA for most saves last season.
Soccer has been an integral part of Shelton's life.
"I have played soccer since I was 4 years old, and along the way I developed a love for the game," she said. "My mom of all people has always been the one in my life that has encouraged me to be the best, and has mentally prepared me for all the things I have been through."
Shelton considers a few coaches as the most influential for fostering her love of the game.
"I have also had many coaches along the way that inspired me to be the best I could be, and encouraged me to take soccer as far as I could take it," she said. "A few of those coaches stick out, and they were Eddie Carvacho, Chris Thurman and J.D. Murphy. Still, all three of these people push me to be better and better everyday."
Jon Ireland, Lady Bisons' soccer coach, said that Katie has been an invaluable player this season.
"Katie is one of the top goalkeepers in the conference," he said. "She averages eight or nine saves a game. She is the reason in a lot of ways that we've had the season we've had."
Shelton also sees Ireland as the key to the women's team's future success.
"J.I. is probably one of the best things that could have happened to our team this year," she said. "A new, dedicated coach is exactly what Lipscomb women's soccer needed. He is the type of coach that never settles. He is always looking for ways to improve our team, and he never leaves out any small details. He takes his job very seriously, and I think in the near or distant future, he will bring great success to the women's soccer team."
Shelton said timeless memories are not always made on the field but in the friendships that are made throughout the season.
"Some of my fondest memories playing soccer here at Lipscomb are things that most people would not ever notice or remember," she said. "My best memory was during my freshman year when my best friend Brittany Harp was the sweeper. She was the type of player that would do anything for me and the team to keep the ball out of the goal, and there were many times she had to do things on the field that would make me laugh the rest of the game. Whether it was a ridiculous tackle, pulling shorts down, heading the ball with her face, or our favorite was what we liked to call "The Seal." It never mattered to her. She did whatever it took to keep the ball away from me, and sometimes it was hysterical."
Perhaps one of the most distinct and noticeable features on the field are Shelton's bright-yellow shoes.
"That is kind of a funny story in itself," she said. "The only reason I have those cleats is because the cleats that were ordered for me didn't fit, and those were the only ones the team had that did. Not going to lie though, I really like the fact they are bright yellow."
It is obvious that the position of goalkeeper is not for someone who is faint of heart.
"It is a lot of fun being a goalkeeper," she said. "It is a lot of pressure but the way I look at it, it is good pressure. When you play defense you usually have more pressure than other players on the field because if you mess up, everyone knows it.
"As a goalkeeper, I am the last line of defense and when the ball comes to me everyone knows it. It is also kind of bad though, because if you make a mistake everyone knows it, and the score reflects it."
Shelton is proud of being a part of this season's soccer team.
"Our team this year has been the best team I have been a part of throughout my college career," she said. "Although we are not quite the best team yet, we have the most heart by far. The girls work hard day in and day out to do what they can to better themselves. They never give up! They are very hard workers, and I think the fact that we all get along, and we all are friends helps a lot."
Although the women's soccer team is not quite where they want to be, they continue to work toward their goal of becoming one of the top teams in the conference. With stand-out players like Shelton, this goal does not seem so far out of reach.
This story was written by Molly Merkle, a student in the News Writing and Reporting class this fall.