Soccer Recruit Nears Career End

Jill Fier

Jill Fier

Three years ago senior Melissa Speiser came to South Dakota State University as the very first recruit for a new women’s soccer program.

Now as she plays in her fourth and final season for the team, she knows that ending her collegiate sports career may mean saying goodbye to something that has been a big part of her life since her childhood.

“I was about five when I started playing soccer, and I have been playing ever since then,” Speiser said.

Speiser said she began playing sports because she was an active kid, but soccer was always her standout sport.

“I played a bunch of other sports when I was in highschool, like basketball and volleyball. Soccer was always the one I loved the most and I guess it was the one I had the most talent for,” she said.

It was during one of those high school soccer games in her hometown of Casper, Wyo. that she began to think about coming to SDSU for the benefit of both her sports and academic future.

“[Head soccer coach] Lang Wedemeyer just came to one of our high school tournaments and mentioned that he was starting the SDSU program and he recruited me,” Speiser said.

As one of the first members of the team and the only recruit having been here for four years, Speiser said shehas been able to watch the team develop and mature.

“From the first year, it was kind of scraggly because I was the only recruit and we had a few transfers; other girls were brought from club teams,” she said.

She said she can see the changes and improvements in the team now with the addition of more recruits and coaching staff.

“Each year the team chemistry gets better and better as we learn things we need to do to bring the team together.”

Out of all the games she has played at SDSU, Speiser said that one of her most memorable moments is making it to the NCC conference tournament her sophomore year.

“We ended up losing in the first game against Mankato, but it was a close game,” she said.

Speiser said sports wasn’t the only thing that drew her to SDSU, though.

The nursing major said she knew the school would be a perfect fit for her because of the good reputation the health and nursing programs have.

When she graduates, Speiser said she wants to work at a hospital as a registered nurse. She can go back to school later in life to specialize in a certain field, but for now Speiser said she just wants to go to work to help pay for her schooling.

“I can choose a specific area, but right now I’m not sure where I want to be. We’re in pediatrics this semester and I’m kind of liking that,” she said.

Even though Speiser will be a fifth-year senior next year and will have to watch the team from the sidelines, the end of college will hopefully not mean the end of her favorite sport.

“I think the only things I’ll do are club teams or adult leagues and that’s as far as I’ll take it. Hopefully I’ll also do some coaching with little kids or something like that,” Speiser said.

Even though soccer was such a big time commitment for her, she said other aspects of the sport were what really mattered to her and made all her hard work worth the effort.

Learning, meeting new people and and just playing to have fun were the things that kept her going.