David Diaz, President of LEGS (Lady Eagles Got Soccer) Booster Club came to the January 24 Pleasanton Rotary to brag a bit about the players on the Lady Eagles women’s soccer team. Speaking at Rotary were Madelyn Bird, (Junior, All-State Forward), Delanee Olivarri, (Junior, All Region and Honorable Mention State mid-field) and Kate McNeill, (Jr., All Region, All District, MVP Mid Defender). The girls who have won club state champions said if there was anything they could ask of the community it would be to come out and watch us play and cheer us on.
“These girls are unique in their own way and they are unique as a group,” said Diaz who coached thirteen of the sixteen varsity girls when they were young. “They are very talented all in their special way and in their special interest plus they are super smart. On the field and off the field we could not be more proud of this group of athletes many of whom have played together since they were 9-10 years old. They have started a program and gone from the little girls I watched play to the girls little ones look up to.” He then introduced the girls with Olivarri starting the talk with a joke that drew big laughs.
“I have a quick question: What does a nosy pepper do?,”asked Delanee Olivarri. ”It gets jalapeno your business.” Olivarri said she shared that joke because their head coach always starts off their game with a joke to get them in a lighthearted mood before getting down to the serious business of play.
The girls spoke about how the 16 varsity players are normal teenagers but with big hearts for soccer, school and community. They are big believers in volunteering and giving back. “We would love for the community to come to the game to get to know us because it is different from other sports,” said Madelyn Bird, whose father is Coach Bird. “We train in shirts on Wednesday that are white,” said Madelyn. “On the inside where our hearts would be it says, FAMILY. That is an acronym for ‘Forget about me, I love you.’ We strive to live that on the field when we play.”
“Our team is not just about winning,” said Olivarri. “But, don’t get me wrong we love to win. Over the years in our achievements, we have never missed playoffs in our 19-year history. In the last three consecutive years we have made it to the regional tournament. We produced eight all state players. We are undefeated in district for two years running. Our goal this year is to make it to state. Academically, every player has been All-District for the past four years. Every Senior has been Academic All-State for the last three years.”
“I believe a good team starts with a great coach,” said Kate McNeill. “We are fortunate to play for Brant Bird. He teaches us so many life lessons through the game of soccer which he feels mirrors the game of life.” McNeill said that she read that the motto of Rotary is “Service Above Self” and she said that is the same thing that Coach Bird instills in the team. She said that as a team that the Seniors do just as much of the “grunt” work as the Freshman because they feel that it is a privilege to work in service together.
“I think people should come out and watch these girls play because they are the true representation of selflessness on and off the field. The bond they share is truly amazing to watch in action,” said Coach Bird.
Regarding the depth of the team, Coach Brant Bird said that for the championship game Salado tournament they were missing six players and almost came home with a win. “We had three at BPA (Business Professionals Association) competition, two showing at the Atascosa County Stock Show and one out with a torn ACL.” said Bird.
“Ever since these young ladies began playing together they have always taken into consideration how their actions both on and off the field will affect their sport, their school, their community and their families,” said Diaz. “This community should come out and support them as they are true examples of family.”
The next Lady Eagles Soccer game at home on Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Pleasanton Soccer Field at 900 West Adams in Pleasanton.