Wann's Drive Puts Her On The Right Path
By Ryan Lazo
Sep 13, 2013, 08:30
Image courtesy of richmondspiders.com
RICHMOND — Becca Wann saw the navy blue jersey sitting inside of a locker with her name on it. She noticed the United States’ crest knitted onto the uniform.
She immediately had an enormous sense of pride fill within her as she put on a jersey many people dream about, but so few achieve.
“I teared up and had to turn away from everybody,” Wann said of her first experience with the national team. “It’s an incredible honor. There were 20 girls who represented our entire age group and to think about all the soccer players, it’s incredible.”
And it was made even more fulfilling because Wann had never even thought it was at all a possibility. The forward knew she had a skill-set which set her apart — her heading ability — but everything else seemed to lag behind.
The top players across the country participate on club teams — Wann stopped doing so in eighth grade, leaving her with just her school team to rely on. But that would be all the talented attacker needed to do, surprising even herself.
“Obviously my heading ability is what made me stand-out, but technically, my foot-skills were behind everyone else,” Wann explained. “I never really thought winning a World Cup would be in the cards.”
But it was.
The Chesterfield native was among those chosen for the United States Women’s Under-20 FIFA World Cup squad which captured the title last year in Japan. While Wann was only a reserve for the championship-winning squad, she aimed to utilize the experience to improve her play during the University of Richmond’s soccer season.
And in her junior season, Wann netted a team-high seven goals, setting her up for a senior season where she aimed to not only improve, but join the professional ranks.
However, after netting two goals — bringing her career tally at Richmond to 34 — she suffered her fourth concussion. Wann knew another concussion would mean the end of her playing career, so the senior hoped the headache was not what she feared it was.
After two days of pain, it became clear the nightmare was real.
“I remember getting hit and thinking, ‘wow, this feels weird,’” Wann said. “I really battled with it all week. I didn’t want to let my teammates down...but I knew had to go to the trainer.”
Just like Wann thought, the diagnosis was not what she wanted to hear.
The impact caused a concussion and the doctors immediately advised her to end her playing career. Continuing to play — especially someone who plays with the style she does — would have meant hurting her own quality of life.
University of Richmond’s soccer coach Peter Albright saw the devastation in her eyes and immediately hurt for her, knowing what this injury took away.
“It’s really difficult for her in a lot of different ways,” he said. “This season meant a great deal to her, especially being there for her teammates. I also think she had a chance to have a professional career after college. That’s been a dream of hers and she’s been working really hard toward it.”
But there is another side to this story.
Wann is not just a soccer standout for the Spiders, but also a key player for their basketball team as a rare two-sport Division I athlete. While the doctor ruled her out of soccer competitions, she was told basketball would still be an option.
While not an ideal scenario, the chance to continue playing Division I sports, helped alleviate some of the sadness from the harshest of injuries.
“I think, for me, it was definitely a saving grace,” the Spiders’ 5-foot-10 guard said. “Knowing that right now I’m out, I’ll never get to play soccer again...but there’s still basketball season which has kind of been the light at the end of the tunnel for me.”
Image courtesy of richmondspiders.com
And the fact she is even playing Division I basketball is a story within itself.
Wann earned a scholarship to play soccer at Richmond, but successfully walked-on the basketball team as well. Wann had been a McDonald’s All-American nominee out of high school, so the talent was there.
She’s taken that talent to the court each and every day, scoring 11.1 points per game to go along with 7.9 rebounds per game last season. It’s the drive to continue to excel both in basketball and on the bench for her soccer teammates.
The Spiders, in shock from the news, are currently riding a four-game winless streak. However, they know Wann is on the sidelines, motivating and encouraging them anyway she can.
It’s what she knows how to do which is what she’s focusing on as she gathers her thoughts for what the future might hold.
“Honestly, I have no earthly idea of what’s next,” she explained. “I was planning on entering the draft and playing soccer after school, but now that’s not an option, I haven’t really wrapped my mind around that yet...I just know that whatever it is, it will be good.”
It’s something her soccer coach is all too sure of after getting to know her and learn of her accomplishments while on the sideline.
“I don’t think you can name a person who has accomplished as much in both sports like she has...that’s a testament to her character,” Albright said. “She’s going to have a very successful next chapter, we just don’t know what that is yet.”
While Wann will not be walking out of the tunnel wearing the crest of the United States in the near future, she will be taking the Robins Center court, giving it her all on each every possession. She will take that determination and drive and apply it to her future, which if her success on the pitch and hardwood are any indication, will be something special.