Our fall sports Senior Spotlight this week is Senior Women’s Soccer Foward Katie Ashpole.
The crisp fall weather, colorful leaves and pervasive busy feeling as classes and organizations become more intense comes with a variety of nostalgic memories for many Gusties. For fall sport student-athletes, walking across an orange-bathed campus in the afternoon might conjure memories of previous years, with autumn breezes taking them back to the thrilling team bonding of daily practice and thrill of weekend competitions.
For other Gusties, the sunny, breezy Saturday mornings might remind them of decking out in black & gold to cheer on the Football, Soccer or Cross Country teams outdoors. Still others might feel the chill of the night air and fondly look back on a packed Lund gym, cheering the Volleyball team on as they competed in the early rounds of the NCAA championships, or the tired but accomplished feeling of stepping off the bus after an away-game victory.
Although we’re all reminded of how different sports this fall look, many Gustie senior athletes are hungrier than ever as they look towards a chance to compete this spring, using their nostalgia as motivation to work harder than ever this fall. This week’s Senior Spotlight highlights the Women’s Soccer team, specifically Senior Forward Katie Ashpole, who is especially looking forward to a chance to compete again after four years of hard work. She commented on how nice it’s been to be back, despite all the changes, and how the team has been adapting to all of the COVID-19 related changes.

Q: How does this fall feel different than previous years?
KA: “There’s a lot of changes…Normally, we’re in season right now, usually we arrive early and have our whole preseason, and are playing games…[and] although we can’t have full contact, it’s been really nice to have some practices.”

Q: What’s your favorite sports-related memory from this time of year?
KA: “Each year, we go on a preseason trip, and it’s just a great bonding experience especially with the [first-years]…Obviously, we haven’t been able to travel anywhere, but we’ve been able to bond in different ways, and make memories while staying socially distant.”

Q: What’s been your biggest goal or motivator during the Covid pandemic?
KA: “It’s my senior year, it’s kinda my last year to play at Gustavus with all my friends…I wanna make the most of it, and play and compete at a really high level. With how hard I’ve worked these past four years, that’s really been what’s motivates me.”

Q: What’s your favorite NEW memory you’ve made with the team this year?
KA: “I like being in the pods that we have. It gives us an opportunity to get really close with a small group of people. I’ve gotten to know people on a much deeper level, [and] it’s fun to make those memories and get to know each other a lot better.”

Q: How are you and your team using this fall to prepare for competitions this spring?
KA: “We’ve been doing a lot of practicing, strength and conditioning and bonding. Get some touches on the ball, get up to speed with soccer, especially with the first-years, helping get them trained into the team and learn what our style of play is.”

Q: How has your team found ways to bond and grow as a family during this fall?
KA: “[We’ve done] a lot of built-in bonding with our pods in practice, and we’ve been doing a lot of bonding activities outside of soccer. Socially-distanced gatherings, competitions within our team, [like] juggling random household objects instead of soccer balls and making music videos, just fun competitions and stuff. We did a lot of virtual trivia and games on Zoom to get to know people better. We’ve been connecting both in-person and online, which has been really fun.”

Even though everyone is feeling the effects of COVID-19, and a widespread desire for things to be different hangs in the air, Gustie senior athletes like Ashpole continue to shine as leaders in their respective programs. The Women’s Soccer team is slated to resume competition this spring.