All Four Mercy

(Photo credit: Allia McDowell).

Four years. It’s the duration between Olympics, or World Cup soccer championships. It’s the length of a presidential term, or the average time it takes someone graduate from college.

And for four Mercy High School student-athletes, four years is how long they have been competing together as members of Mercy Varsity Soccer (MVS).

In a rare feat, seniors Taylor Babcock, Maria Pulice, Alex Griffin, and Margaret Terhune all made the varsity soccer team as freshmen. For a competitive school like Mercy, it is unusual for even one freshman to make the team. Two is exceptional. Four? That’s a special class.

But to Terhune, Griffin, Babcock, and Pulice, the expectations caused some initial fears about being the youngest people on the team. Each, though, stressed the pleasant surprise of the older players welcoming them with open arms.

“Being on varsity as a freshman was intimidating at first,” said Terhune. “Especially because it is not very often that a freshman makes it. I was so scared that the girls would be mean…but I loved it! They took me and the other girls under their wing, and it was awesome to have upperclassmen friends.”

This is their last season on varsity and together, they are starting to rue that their time as MVS players is coming to an end.

“These last four years have been a roller-coaster,” said Griffin. “But I’ve loved every part of it.”

Griffin is the leading scorer on MVS and will be playing for Western Illinois University’s team next year.

“I chose Western Illinois because I love the coach and the program is great,” she said.

Like her freshman year of high school, Griffin will be the youngest on her college team and will have to work her way to the top once again.

“So much of soccer is about earning your starting position,” said Griffin. “You have to work as hard as you can both on and off the field. I know I am capable of doing that and although I will miss playing for MVS, I am excited to start the next chapter of my life.”

Terhune also will be playing soccer in college, attending St. Lawrence University in New York.

“I have played soccer since I was little,” said Terhune “I couldn’t picture myself not playing soccer again. I have always dreamed of playing in college and it feels so good to know my dream is coming true.”

Babcock will also be continuing her soccer career, attending the University of Portland, a Division 1 soccer program.

“It is definitely going to be a challenge,” said Babcock. “The pace is going to be much faster than I am used to. But I am excited to prove to my teammates that I belong there.”

When she isn’t playing MVS, Babcock is participating in extensive training.

“It is important that I am able to pass all of the fitness tests in Portland,” said Babcock. “I play for Michigan Rush in Northville during the fall and winter. When I am playing MVS, I practice with Rush boys’ teams and train with Barwiss [a local training center].”

A starting center midfielder and important playmaker for the team, Babcock will truly be missed by MVS next year.

“I am sad that it is all over,” she said. “There is nothing like the memories and friendships I have made these last four years, and I wish it could last forever. Although I will miss all the wonderful girls, I am beyond excited to meet my new team and take Portland by storm.”

Unlike the other three girls, Pulice has decided not to play varsity soccer in college. “I decided to go to Michigan State University to focus on my studies,” said Pulice. “I will be playing on their club team, though!”

Pulice, the strongest center defender on MVS, never lets the opponent get close to her net. Pulice has greatly enjoyed her time as a Marlin.

“My favorite memory so far is definitely winning districts my freshman year,” said Pulice. “I have high hopes we can win districts again this year, my last year, and go on to be competitors in the state playoffs.”

Over the last four years, Pulice has valued the friendships she made and the memories she will never forget.

All four girls are captains this season, and each one wants to pass on knowledge acquired over their four years together.

“You have to keep a positive attitude, even when things get tough,” said Pulice. “Every season has its bumpy spots, but it is up to the leaders to keep up the team’s morale. It is important to have a strong bond with all your teammates because, the closer you are off the field, the more you will play together on the field.”

Griffin agrees with the idea of team unity.

“It is important to accept everyone and make sure everyone feels like a part of the team,” she said. “Let each person know that they play a special part on the team.”

Making people feel special and having a good time is what playing a sport is all about.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” said Babcock. “Build it on fun. Show your team how to enjoy the game.”

Along with fun, however, the team is counting on one another to win games. Winning requires lots of hard work.

“I know it can get frustrating at times, but the harder you work the harder it is to quit,” said Terhune.”If everyone sticks together and never gives up, I think the team can be amazing in the years to come.”

“Aristotle once said, ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’ MVS strives each and every day for excellence,” said Griffin. “Even if the record doesn’t always show it, we, as a team, are excellent. This year is our year to be champions; to make our excellence show through our record.”

It is only fitting to end this article the way the girls start each game. Go Big Fish!