For many athletes, winning a championship of any kind is their ultimate goal. But what happens when that goal is realized? In other words, what's next?
Arizona women's soccer player Ashley Lettis has seen two of her dreams come true, all in the span of her brief college career. A transfer from DeAnza Junior College in Cupertino, Calif., Lettis played for a championship team in her second year of college.
"JCs only go to state finals, so the first year I was there we went to state finals and lost in PK's Ä penalty kicks Ä and the second year we went again and we won in PKs," Lettis explained.
But even with the experience she gained from winning a soccer title, the junior midfielder wasn't satisified and decided a change was in order.
"At the JC, it's not as united, the team doesn't have a strong sense of belonging," she said. "You go to practice, you leave it at practice, and off the field it's not really like a soccer team ... well, it was, but not like this. This is just intense. It's 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for three to four months. You eat, live and breathe soccer."
When she changed schools, her second dream came true as well. After her two years at DeAnza, she was forced to transfer, as athletes are only allowed to compete for two years at junior colleges. So, it was decision time once again.
Lettis applied to several California schools at first because she planned to stay in her home state. But when UA coach Lisa Fraser called and got her interested in the upstart Wildcat program, she made a campus visit, brought her family to Tucson and made the decision to come to the UA.
"I loved it, it's everything I've always wanted," Lettis said. "I played soccer for 15 years, and my dream Ä I don't know if it's other girls' dreams Ä is to play soccer in Division I, a big huge school, scholarship and all that. I don't know how it happened."
In transferring to Arizona, however, Lettis traded in a title for a team just starting out Ä in essence, she traded wins for losses. But even though they are Division I losses, they still hurt.
"I usually don't cry, but one time I got tears in my eyes," Lettis said. "It's just so difficult to lose, to keep losing. And I know we're trying. It's really hard, the team is dealing with it in different ways. It was adding up, the losses were adding up on our pysche."
In making her choice to come to Arizona, Lettis indicated that the coaching staff was a big factor in her decision. In recruiting her, Fraser liked what she saw in Lettis, and remarked that the midfielder's experience in winning would help the team in the long run.
"I liked that she had good ball control because that's what you need in the midfield and that's what she has to offer us," Fraser said. "Ashley's very skilled, she's got good touch on the ball."
After everything that's happened, though, new dreams have emerged in place of the old ones.
"I guess, since I've been here, I've established new goals," Lettis said. "Before, my goal was to get a scholarship and go to a Division I school, a huge school that I like. I guess, somehow, I've accomplished that. But since I've been here my goals are team-oriented. I want to work hard and have a strong team that plays well together and wins. So I don't have individual goals right now. For soccer, I just have team goals. I want to do well."
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