Catching up with Stephanie Logterman
July 9, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- Over her four-year career at the University of Texas, soccer's Stephanie Logterman made a name for herself not only on the pitch, but off the field as well. Widely involved in events around campus along with taking leadership roles in the athletic department, Logterman walked away with an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, the Big 12's Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship and a wealth of academic/community service awards.
Along with her altruistic efforts, Logterman played a large role in Texas' back-to-back Big 12 Tournament Championships (2006-07) and was a strong piece of the UT defense that held posted 31 shutouts from 2006-08. Now, the defender has a chance to make a name for herself in a realm that was once unavailable to female soccer players, the Women's Professional Soccer league.
On Jan. 16, Logterman was selected by the Saint Louis Athletica as the No. 20 overall pick in the league's inaugural draft. After graduating with honors from UT in May with a degree in humanities/pre-med, Logterman made the move to St. Louis and has started and played every minute of the last seven matches. Prior to Logterman's arrival, the Athletica were 2-3-2 in league play but have since moved to 5-2-0 including a recent defeat of the L.A. Sol, who sit atop the WPS standings.
The Athletica, one of seven teams in the league, are currently in second (7-5-2) behind the L.A. Sol, whose roster is donned by three-time FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, Marta.
Logterman recently caught up with TexasSports.com to talk about what her time has been like since joining the Athletica.
What's it like to actually be a professional soccer player? It is still kind of weird, because it's something you always dream about as a kid, but you never actually thought would happen. I mean I still take moments and think "Wow, I am getting paid to play soccer!" It's just really cool.
What are some of the major differences between professional and collegiate play? Professional soccer is a little more "cut throat" than college. In college, no matter what level you are playing on, people are going to make mistakes, and there is a little bit of flexibility and forgiveness. On the professional level, if you are not playing well, then you will not be on the field.
What do you see as the difference between a collegiate player and a professional? In collegiate soccer there are a lot of great athletes, but not necessarily a lot of great soccer players. I think the distinction lies in the decision making. For example, a good collegiate player will probably connect a pass at least six out of ten times, but a professional will connect it eight out of ten just because they consistently make smarter decisions. And it makes a big difference, because ultimately the team maintains possession for longer.
How has your experience with the U.S. national teams helped you, and how does it compare to playing in the WPS? The environment is really similar. A major reason I made it professionally, is that I've been playing with the national team since I was young. Being in that type of environment, where I am around good players all the time, has definitely allowed me to grow enough to make it to this level.
What is the practice and training like at the professional level? Unlike in college, where there is an NCAA regulation of 20 hours a week, there is no regulation. So we can spend as long as the coaches want us to practice on any given day. And we do have some really long practices. Practices start officially at 9 a.m., but the majority of us get there early, move the ball around a little and work on things we need to before practice starts. We usually start out with a brief talk from Coach George Barcellos, then we'll play some sort of possession game, and finish by working on some sort of tactical drills concerning our next game. Practice runs at least three or four hours. Plus, on occasion we watch film, and/or spend some time in the weight room. At first, I was expecting to have all sorts of free time, but as you can tell, we actually don't have that much free time at all. The day before a game won't be as intense, but most days, you come home feeling totally exhausted.
How has Texas helped you get where you are now? A lot of the professional coaches go to the college games to scout just like in other sports, so that's where I was noticed. I loved my time at Texas. I think it helped me gain a lot of confidence as far as getting better at my defensive position. All my years playing left back at UT really allowed me to just smoothly step back into it professionally. I mean, I still make mistakes but for the most part, I wouldn't be as good as I am, if it wasn't for the coaches at Texas showing me how to play back there. Leading up to college I had always played in the midfield, and it wasn't until college that I had really started playing defense. So everything I know tactically and technically and how to play in the back, I learned at Texas. Making that transition, in college, has made it that much easier for me now.
How did Texas prepare you as far as growing in a new environment and adapting to a new team? College helps you so much in that sense. Because of all the travel and always being on the road, all the good habits you make in college really make the transition to being a professional on a new team that much easier. In terms of taking care of yourself, being able to adjust and deal with problems quickly, college was invaluable.
How do you like the new team? I love our team. I have so much respect and admiration for all the players and staff, and I feel really blessed because everyone just gets along so well, and that we all really like each other. They are all just really amazing in many ways. Tina Ellertson, one of the defender I play with, has two kids, an eight year old, and a 14 month old, and I don't know how she handles it all. I come back to our apartment after a long day at practice and I can just relax. But she goes home and has two kids she has to entertain, and make sure are happy and well fed, and I just don't know how on Earth she manages it all but I have so much respect of her. And then we have players like Hope Solo and Lori Chalupny, who are consistently working with the national team. Just to see how good they are is amazing. Some of the saves Hope makes are just unbelievable and you realize why she is the best in the world. Just seeing that level of play is good because it allows you to experience firsthand what it is like at that next level. And it's awesome because everyone is just really down to Earth and humble. I'm really enjoying my time here.
How is the fan atmosphere of the professional stadium? We get anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 people a game. The stadium is really cool, we play at Soccer Park, and the fans are right up next to the field so it's really loud and intense. It's almost like a basketball game where the fans are right next to the court. And we really appreciate the fans coming out because it makes it that much more exciting.
Is it different from the Texas atmosphere? What I do really miss from Texas is all the team traditions we had there. Every time we have our team huddle before the game, I literally have to check myself, because out of habit, I just want to put my Horns up. I miss that aspect, things like Texas Fight, and The Eyes of Texas. When you are on the field and have the crowd yelling "Texas Fight", it's an awesome feeling. It's was what made playing at Texas so special.
What's St. Louis like? I think it is really similar to Austin, and I really enjoy that because it is not as overwhelming as New York, Chicago or L.A., but it's still a really happening place. In Austin there's always something going on, and there is a really cool music scene, and it's really similar here. They also have a really cool park called Forest Park, which is actually bigger than Central Park in New York. It's beautiful, so we find ways to keep busy.
What was it like the first time you stepped out on the field? At first, I was definitely nervous because I wasn't sure if I could quite hang yet. I was a little unsure of myself and whether I should actually be there. There were a lot of players that I heard about but I wasn't quite sure if I'd be able to play against them. But somehow I made it through and I just realized that I can hang with these players, I can play here.
What's life after UT like, any surprises? I still really feel like I am in college. I feel like a kid, because I wake up and I go kick a soccer ball around for four hours and then hang out, and I am still getting paid for all of it. It's great.
Do you have any plans to continue your volunteer work? As a team, a lot of us volunteer together. Just the other day some of us volunteered at an event for foster kids. We try to get in as much stuff as we can, even though it's hard to do consistently because of our schedule. But I am still in the process of settling in and feeling things out, so definitely by the start of next season, I'd like to find something to do consistently.
What are your plans with your NCAA postgraduate scholarship? I have two years to use it. I'm taking the MCAT in August and I am applying to medical school this fall. That's the plan for now. Eventually I am going to have leave soccer to use it, but I am just applying now and taking the entrance exam now while all of the information is still fresh. And then I can always defer.
With all that you have accomplished, what advice do you give to those who would love to reach the point you have? I don't think there is any special secret. You have to work hard. Hard work is what it is really all about. For me, it has always bugged me if I know there is someone out there working harder than me, so it's always been my thing to try and go above and beyond. Just practicing three or four times a week isn't enough, you have to want to give more. And sometimes that means sacrifice but if you want to make it to the next level, it's worth it.