In Their Own Words: Nicole Cauzillo

Nov. 8, 2007

Throughout the course of the 2007 season, members of the Kansas soccer team will share their thoughts in the first person. Today, senior midfielder Nicole Cauzillo speaks about her inspiration in life and what her years in the Crimson and Blue meant to her.

Nicole Cauzillo

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On the team over the last month of the season:

“I think we played with a lot more confidence (compared to the first month of the season). People were confident in front of the net and we took chances. Our team did a good job of playing quickly, connecting and playing simple. Where in September, we knew that somebody needed to step up, and individuals were doing it different games, but we weren’t playing altogether. We’re trying to focus on playing 15 minutes at a time, instead of 45 minutes (a half) or 90 minutes (a full match). I think regardless of if you had a good 15 minutes or a bad 15 minutes, you put it behind you and go on to the next 15.”

On the team’s offense having several different options:

“One of the things that’s cool with our team is any body is capable of stepping up and scoring big goals for us. I think all of our attacking players have scored this year. Emily (Strinden) and I always talk about what (other team’s) scouting reports look like, because with ours, we always have one or two people to focus on. But I feel with our team it could be anybody. I noticed in the Colorado game, they man-marked me in the first half and then Jessica (Bush) did an awesome job of stepping up and attacking, so then in the second half they had to worry about both of us.”

On what she brings to the Jayhawks:

“I think the biggest thing is a positive outlook. I never really give up, and that’s kind of been a testimony to my four years here, dealing with the injuries. I always think that the best is yet to come. I think I also bring passion and heart to the team.”

On her mom, Linda:

“I really get (my passion) from my mom. She raised me and my sister (Meghan) as a single mom and worked two jobs. She has the biggest heart of anybody that I know. Even though it was different, she worked hard just to keep food on the table and keeping us in school. I think that comes across with me on the soccer field. I was really excited to walk across the field with her (on Senior Day) and that’s one of the reasons why I chose to just walk with her, because I feel like she’s worked so hard to get me where I need to be.”

On how she got into soccer:

“I played a lot of different sports when I was younger, but I just loved soccer. My sister is seven years older than me and she played soccer, so I started playing at a pretty young age. She was into premier teams. When she got older, she played for the Michigan Hawks, and so when I was nine, I tried out for the Hawks and I stuck with that club through my whole childhood. They played a big part in developing me. When I was younger, I was probably better at track and basketball, but I think I worked harder at soccer.”

“I used to have a juggling (the soccer ball) contract with my club coach. I would have to juggle every night and then tell him what my highest total was the next day. My mom used to yell at me, because after dinner I would get to go out and juggle before I did my homework. But she’d have the hardest time getting me back in because I didn’t want to quit until I beat my highest score. So I’d stay out for a long time. I just really enjoyed working at soccer.”

On her year at West Virginia:

“It just wasn’t a total fit for me. We were successful on the soccer field, but I really like school, and I really like the people that I’m around. I feel like here I have that. I was in an honors class at West Virginia, but it wasn’t very challenging and I didn’t find any professors I liked that much. There wasn’t an emphasis on creating a whole person, rather just a soccer player. So, if I wanted to play soccer for the rest of my life; that would be a great school for me. But I think (at KU) I have awesome professors, I love my major, I love the team and my friends. I also have a church here, and I didn’t have that in West Virginia.”

On what made her decide to transfer KU:

“I actually didn’t know that I had sent my release to KU. I had sent my mom a list of schools that I wanted to look at, and she added KU without me knowing. They had just had a really good year. When Coach Francis called me, I still didn’t know that I had sent a release to Kansas. But he started talking in his English accent and telling me about how he was a midfielder. I wanted to play for somebody who understood my position. He got me out here, and the weekend I came out, the team was participating in Weekend for Life. We got to stay up all night, hang out. It was a really good visit.”

On dealing with two injury-plagued years:

“Soccer is such a big part of me, and it was hard to leave West Virginia and see that they’re still successful. I was starting there and playing there a lot as a freshman, and I didn’t have any injuries there. But I really feel like my injuries (at KU) taught me a lot about who I am. Just being able to overcome them was good for me.”

“The hardest thing about getting injured was that I stopped believing that I was a good soccer player. So, this year I realized that I need to play with confidence every game, and I have to understand that just because you get an injury, you’re not a bad soccer player. I think that’s one of the things that’s helped this season, having confidence even when we’re losing. My teammates helped me a lot, when I had mono (as a junior) and last year after my concussion (as a redshirt-junior). Just seeing how much they cared about me was really awesome.”