By GEMMA SPICKA-PROFFIT
In late September, four UMW athletes were awarded CAC athlete of the week: Ken Kurtz of men’s soccer, Emily Knerr of women’s cross country, Lauren Hopkins of field hockey, and Lindsey Hendrickson of women’s soccer. This award is given to athletes from schools within the Capital Athletic Conference, typically for an outstanding performance during the previous week.
In his sophomore year at UMW and his first year active on the men’s soccer team, Ken Kurtz was awarded CAC Defensive Player of the Week.
“I’m kind of surprised because I’m not really watching all those other games or seeing how other guys are doing for their teams. I’m very humbled to receive this award for the second time in my first year playing in college,” said Kurtz.
In the two games prior to being awarded, Kurtz had a 100% save rate, blocking four goals against Catholic and two against Widener.
“Being a goalie is a lot of pressure. Some guys say you’re the last line of defense. I like to be under pressure, and I’d like to say I thrive under pressure,” said Kurtz.
“This is probably one of the best starts in the history of the program. A big goal for us this year is to win the National Championship. It’s very possible this year since we’ve been moving up in the rankings, and the talent is there,” said Kurtz, as UMW currently holds an 8-0-2 record.
One moment from this season that Kurtz believes shows their team’s potential was when they beat Johns Hopkins University 2-1 in overtime.
“It told me we have a really talented group this year because they were ranked 13th nationally,” said Kurtz.
Senior Emily Knerr was rewarded CAC women’s cross country Runner of the Week following a fifty-second PR in her 5K race at the Shenandoah Invitational.
“I worked a lot harder this summer and I think I’ve definitely seen improvements already this year.
We’ve been doing a lot of hill workouts this season as a team, and I think that has given us an edge over other teams, especially on that very hilly course,” said Knerr. “This season, I’d like to really drop as much time as I can, and I’d like to do well at conferences at the end of October,” said Knerr.
Knerr has been running since her freshman year of high school. Although running started out as a way to stay in shape for field hockey, it soon became her main focus. Running on a team has taught Knerr many lessons, including “the importance of communication, friendship and being outgoing.”
“I was always really shy before, especially in the beginning of college, but being a leader on the team has really helped in the classroom,” said Knerr.
Lauren Hopkins was awarded CAC Offensive Player of the Week for field hockey for the second time during her junior year. She was given the award after scoring two hat tricks in back-to-back games against Lynchburg and Washington and Lee University.
“I’ve been keeping up with practice more, and I’ve been really excited to play. As a team, we’ve been having a lot of fun, and I think that translates to the field and makes us want to work hard for each other,” said Hopkins.
“I think playing DIII is the perfect balance,” said Hopkins. “It’s a good level of competition, but, at the same time, field hockey doesn’t control my life. I can still focus on academics and being involved with the school in other ways.”
Hopkins decided to come to UMW because she really liked the program here. She saw that “they were very confident and very competitive. When I joined the team, they had had some really strong years.” Hopkins’ main goal this season is “to make it back to the CAC championship.”
“I haven’t been there since my freshman year, and I think we deserve it. We work hard, and if we continue to work hard we’ll be there,” said Hopkins.
Finally, freshman Lindsey Hendrickson was recognized as CAC Offensive Player of the Week for women’s soccer. The team had a hectic week with the combination of Hurricane Florence, a hard loss against Randolph Macon, and the introduction of a new formation. Despite this, Hendrickson was able to come out strong, scoring once against Marymount University and three consecutive times against Meredith College.
“The first couple minutes of any game are really stressful. For me as a player, once I do one thing right I get a lot more confident and I feel better on the field; it kind of gets all the loosey-gooseys out and I’m ready to go,” said Hendrickson.
Being a freshman in college, Hendrickson has had a lot to get used to.
“Playing in college is much different than playing in high school. I feel like everyone is a lot more
aggressive, and the speed of play is much faster. It’s a completely different game,” said Hendrickson.
“[Having a] new coach, new school and being a freshman away from home” may pose as a challenge at times, but having a great group of friends as her teammates has really helped make the transition easier. She is most looking forward to the CNU game: “they’re our rivals, so it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. Also, that’s the day of homecoming, so a lot of people will come out.”
Overall, UMW athletes have had many incredible performances this year. Few athletes are chosen as recipients of the Athlete of the Week award, so this bodes well for the teams and their goals of reaching the championships. Fall varsity sports are more than halfway through their season, so try to go out and support your classmates before their season ends.