The 2011 State Champion McLean Girls’ Soccer Team is a close-knit group. Five girls within the 11-member team share a special bond, having played together since elementary school.
Melissa Downey, 18, Andie Romness, 18, and Katie Yensen, 17, all graduated from McLean High School last week. Melissa will attend and play soccer for Princeton. Andie and Katie will play for South Carolina and Virginia Tech, respectively, this fall. Brianna and Caroline, both 17, are excited for their senior year at McLean this fall.
The five recently sat down to share about their friendship and give an inside look at who they are as individuals off the field.
Each girl described her personality this way:
Caroline Gray: “I’m the obnoxious, loud one.”
Andie Romness: “I’m kind of laid back, but I say what I think. I have my moments. … I can be obnoxious.”
Melissa Downey: “Sometimes I’ll go to a club on Saturday and I’m fun. I just kind of go with the flow and whatever I feel like doing, I do.”
Katie Yensen: “I can see myself as being happy. … and I’m very tame.”
Brianna Nielsen: “I’m pretty laid back and chill. I don’t know if I want to be a leader. I would if the opportunity came and people wanted me to, but I wouldn’t be like ‘I should be the leader.’”
The girls have been friends since elementary school and first met while playing on the same house and travel soccer teams. Melissa and Andie would eventually join the Bethesda Dragons U-18 and became even closer during middle school at Longfellow. Caroline, Katie and Brianna were, and still are on the McLean Strikers U-17 team. The two groups bonded in high school.
“We all got close in high school in general and all had classes together,” Andie said. “I’m always going to stand up for my friends and not let them be taken advantage of. I’m not going to put up with people talking bad about my friends.”
Without hesitation, every girl said her number one priority: academics. They all took Advance Placement courses, and each has a 3.9 GPA.
“You have to have priorities: Academics always comes first and then soccer, and then activities," Katie said. "You have to have levels. My priorities have been set from when I was younger and my parents have always said academics come first.”
Brianna, who tends to shy away from the spotlight, agreed that you have to find the right balance in life.
Also soccer has taught her discipline. “I think it’s mostly about time management. Being able to just know when your practices are, fit in your school work around that and make it work without losing any contact with the sport or school work,” she said. “Soccer definitely trains you to learn life lessons. Doing well in time management helps with things you can use later in life, with your job.”
Melissa remembers that soccer taught her to avoid procrastination. “Sophomore year, with the first AP course you realize that after a couple days with a long AP reading, you don’t want to do that at 9 p.m. after I’ve just run my butt into the ground.”
Andie says she’s not afraid to speak her mind but prefers to stay laid back. She also likes skateboarding and snowboarding. She's on the cheerleading team at McLean during the fall.
Caroline said, “We went skiing for the weekend at White Tail and we take adventure trips. We hang out at McDonald's and we eat a lot – that’s what we like to do is eat. ... You can always know even though we are completely different, we kind of are the same. We have to balance, we have our freak-outs when we’re stressing, we have to study, and go to tournaments and we all understand each other.”
However, she becomes frustrated when they are stereotyped as a bunch of athletes. “We aren’t the typical, walking into school in our uniforms, holding our soccer balls. We wear dresses to school and don’t only hang out with the soccer team,” she said. “We do have a social life and this weekend Brianna and I, and a group of our friends are going out to a bay house. We are out of town a lot and it just makes the time we are with our friends more valuable and stronger.”
Katie, who everyone agreed is the fun-loving All-American, says soccer is what brought them together originally but their chemistry was built during time away from the sport. “It’s inevitable that you bond with your teammates and become friends off the field before you do on the field,” she said.
Andie and Melissa are headed to Dewey beach for some long awaited and well-deserved relaxation in the sun. “It’s a big group of us, about 22 people, but [Andie and I] have to come back Monday for regional club soccer training and we will only be there for Saturday and Sunday,” Melissa said regarding her Senior Week plans.
Andie added that she intends to make the most of her short vacation before heading off to South Carolina in less than two weeks to get a jump-start on college.
“I hope to get tan and just enjoy the time I have left with my friends,” she said. “I leave in like 10 days because we have to go to summer school.”
Katie will not be making the Dewey Beach trip. She must leave early for Virginia Tech and is excited to meet her new teammates.
“My summer plan is to train a lot, do a lot of running, try to get in shape and I am going to summer school at Virginia Tech,” she said. “I’m going to get some credits over with, train with the team and get used to the program down there.”
Brianna and Caroline have already committed to play soccer at universities in 2012. Caroline will follow Andie to South Carolina, while Brianna will play for Virginia Commonwealth University.
Melissa, Andie and Katie look forward to independent lives on campus but admitted they will miss their parents and high school friends while away. But one thing they can all count on is their friendship.
“Because we all have to go through the same thing our bond is a lot stronger than like a normal friendship would be because you can understand where everyone is coming from,” Andie said. “Gray and I are going to be friends forever because she is going to South Carolina too, but I know in the future I can call any of these guys and know what’s going on.”
The State Champion Soccer Team will be honored and presented with rings, which the senior class designed, during a football game this fall.