Rock Chalk Rookie Journals

During the 2006 season, the KU freshmen will chronicle the experiences of their first year with the Jayhawks. Check back periodically for new enteries.

In this entry, defender Estelle Johnson recaps KU’s Homecoming weekend against Texas and Texas A&M. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Friday, October 6

Today started out as a normal day in Kansas but looking back on it, it turned out to be flat out weird. I woke up around 7:30, and headed over to Allen Fieldhouse for the team breakfast. For all Friday home games, we will get together and have a meal as a team. We eat together before every home game so that we can do the scouting report and to make sure we’re eating well on game day.

After breakfast I stayed with the defenders and watched film of the Nebraska game with coach and then we were off to classes. Well, kind of. I usually have two classes on Friday morning, but for some reason they were both cancelled so I just walked back up the hill to my dorm room, crawled into bed, and took a nap until game time.

I woke up around three and went to the locker room, pumped for the game. Texas here we come! Or so I thought. We started the game off a little bit slow and nothing much changed. We struggled to get any sort of rhythm going and that ultimately killed us. We lost 1-0, and let me tell you, coach was not happy about that.

Saturday, October 7
Today I woke up around 7:30 again, and headed off to an early practice. We practiced an hour and a half earlier than usual because the football team played at 11 a.m., today and the team wanted to all go to the game together. We also brought a recruit with us so she could see how the team interacted with each other and how much school spirit we had.

After practice and mandatory cold tank we headed to the football game. After the game the freshmen and the recruit went back to the dorms and lounged all day, soaking ourselves in a few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. We had to make sure we were caught up from the previous weekend since we were on the road during the show. If there’s one thing about travel weekends that the team hates, it’s the fact that we always miss Grey’s, which is an important factor in our lives.

The rest of the day was history. We knew we had to rest up for Sunday.

Sunday, October 8

Today was disappointing to say the least. We took on eighth-ranked Texas A&M at 1, and after fighting for and entire game, we lost 1-0 in sudden death overtime. I was devastated. We had all played so well and with so much heart that when (Amy Berend’s) shot hit the net I just sat down with emotional and physical exhaustion. I was holding my head down and feeling sorry for myself until coach gave his post game speech.

He made me realize that, yes, the loss was unfortunate, but we had given one of the top teams in the country a battle that they were not expecting. “This is what Kansas soccer is all about,” Coach Francis said. And he was right, we are that team that might not be the most talented or athletic but we compete, because we do it with heart. That is what’s important.

After reflecting and discussing the game with my teammates in the locker room I realized we can go nowhere but up from here if we play with the desire we had today.

In this entry, freshman Megan Jensen writes about KU’s trip back to her home state of Nebraska.

Thursday, September 28

At 2 o’clock on Thursday afternoon, we finally left the athletic center and headed towards Omaha, Neb. Our season has gone so fast, yet it seems like forever that I have been counting down the days for this trip. Not only would our team be tested with two tough road games against Creighton and Nebraska, but I would get to visit family and friends while in my hometown of Lincoln, Neb.

I was ready to visit home because the last time I had been in Lincoln was this summer. Preseason started in the beginning of August and almost immediately, all the freshmen were thrown into the soccer mix. Two-a-days were tough to say the least, but they brought together the team and prepared us for season. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how fast the season would fly by. The whole ride I thought about some of our past performances, but I was focused on the upcoming games as well.

The drive went by quickly and soon we were pulling up to our hotel in downtown Omaha. After unloading everything from the bus, we headed to our hotel rooms for the night.

Friday, September 29

As usual, we started the day with a team breakfast before heading to the field. We usually try to keep the same schedule for all of our road trips. On Friday game days, we always do a short walk-through at the field in the morning.

When we arrived at the Creighton Stadium, I instantly remembered what it felt like to play under the lights in such a great venue. During this time we usually address tactical issues, and discuss strategy. It’s more of a mental practice than a physical one. After the walk-through, it was back to the hotel and down time before the game.

At 6 o’clock, the time had finally come. It was game time. Unfortunately, we came out a little flat and lost 1-0. It was a frustrating game for everyone, but it would prove to be a turning point in the weekend. I knew this loss would only fuel us for our game against Nebraska on Sunday.

Saturday, September 30

After breakfast and practice in the morning we loaded up the bus and headed to our next destination, Lincoln. It was great to see familiar faces and surroundings. Our team even stopped and ate lunch at my house before heading to our hotel.

With everyone at my house for lunch it was a little overwhelming, but at the same time, it was great to share more about myself and where I’m from with my teammates. Everything from my room to the sandwiches we ate for lunch (from my favorite local restaurant, Brown Baggers) reminded me of everything that was home.

My parents especially enjoyed this visit. They got the chance to meet my coaches, teammates, and get a better feel for what my new environment was like. While being at home with my teammates I could experience the best of both worlds, soccer and family.

Later on in the evening, we went to dinner, watched the KU/UNL football game, then relaxed and got some rest for tomorrow’s game.

Sunday, October 1

Today’s game was against one of our biggest rivals in the conference, Nebraska, and I could tell that everyone was up for the challenge. Less than two minutes into the game, Shannon McCabe scored what would become the game-winning goal.

It felt great to get the win and as a team, everyone performed well. It felt so good to be in Lincoln again but it was already time to leave. Although I wanted to stay a little longer, I was eager to get back to my home away from home, KU!

In this week’s journal entry, midfielder Meredith Monson describes KU’s recent trip to Birmingham, Ala., for the UAB Classic.

Thursday, September 7

Getting ready to go on the road is always very interesting. There is always so much to do and it seems very little time to do it in. Thursday was especially hectic; after turning in a paper, I felt as though I could take some weight off of my shoulders until I got to the locker room and discovered many things missing. I was missing my heart rate monitor and red practice gear, which we bring along on all of our road trips. Luckily with a little effort I was able to find everything and head for Birmingham, Ala.

I had the pleasure of rooming with Afton Sauer on this trip, although I didn’t get to enjoy it right away. When we got to the hotel and were on our way to the room, the fire alarm went off and everyone was forced to evacuate the building.

Luckily we didn’t have to wait outside for too long. After all the hustle, we finally made it to our rooms and more importantly, our beds.

Friday, September 8

We had a big weekend ahead of us and Friday’s game against Alabama was the start. As with most game days on the road, everyone starts out with a good breakfast and then we head to the field for a brief walk-through and go over the scouting report.


Freshmen Meredith Monson and Megan Jensen on the bus in Birmingham, Ala.

In the afternoon, we had some down time after going to the field before lunch, then everyone’s favorite part… Game Time! The game seemed to drag by. I don’t think we played very well, but we fought hard and were able to come out with a “W.”

After the game we did the usual routine, hit the showers, eat dinner, go to bed.

Saturday, September 9

On road trips Saturdays are always a good day to relax and reflect on the game from the day before, as well as get ready for Sunday’s game. All of our games this year are on Friday and Sunday, so we can keep a pretty consistent schedule during the season.

We went to the field for a short practice. Afterwards the University of Alabama decided to share a little southern hospitality by hosting a banquet for all of the teams in the tournament. Usually on road trips we aren’t allowed to have dessert. Of course, there were two trays of tasty treats at the banquet, and we couldn’t have any. However, we made a deal with the coaches that we would play really well if they let us have desserts. And if we didn’t, the idea of having desert should never cross our minds again.

Later that night we went to the movie “Invincible” with Mark Walberg. It was about a high school teacher who tries out for the Philadelphia Eagles and ends up making the team. It was very inspirational and a great choice for a team trip.

Sunday, September 10

We woke up Sunday with excitement and a few butterflies. Today was the day we would play Duke and see what east coast soccer is all about. We knew Duke was a good team, they were ranked No. 12 in the country, so everyone was pumped up for the game. The day went as usual, breakfast in the morning, game-plan meeting after that. Before we knew it, it was time to head to the field.

The game was intense. Duke scored within the first five minutes and the rest of the game seemed like we were playing catch up. They scored again early in the second half and then things got crazy. We scored, Duke scored, then we came back and had the game tied up with eight minutes left.

In the last 30 seconds Shannon McCabe hit a great shot and roofed the keeper. The feeling was unbelievable. We all swarmed the field. I loved the fact that I play for a team the just beat Duke.

It was a great ending to a very good weekend. There was only one question on everyone’s mind… “Duke who?”