Keith grows into Soccer captain
Aug. 17, 2011
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Lucy Keith story is seen through sacrifice, told through hard work. It's those qualities that have helped Keith grow from a raw talent to the Texas Soccer team captain for 2011.
When head coach Chris Petrucelli recruited Keith from a small North Texas private school four years ago, he saw a soccer player "who needed some refinement," after she lettered in basketball, track and volleyball.
Keith tells it a little differently.
"When they recruited me, they didn't expect too much of me. I didn't start when I first got here," Keith recalls.
Keith quickly created change. She started the final 11 matches of the 2008 season, which saw the Longhorns advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament
"What we found was a really talented athlete who has put in the work," Petrucelli says. "She was willing to sacrifice to become a better player."
Keith has also willingly sacrificed for the betterment of her team. Last year, after playing her first two seasons in the midfield, Keith moved to defender. It's an important position, because the player in that center-back spot is responsible for communicating with the players in the front.
For the Longhorns, Keith is the vocal organizer. Through her actions on the field, Keith is passing her innate gifts of responsibility and reliability on to her teammates.
She's shown the Longhorns what accountability looks like, playing 1,979 minutes last year - the most in-game action seen by any member of the team besides the goalkeeper -- and she embodies trust by being in the right spots at the right time.
"She's a great leader, and really an outstanding person who carries herself well," Petrucelli says. "The quality of her personality is incredible."
As the Longhorns prepare to open the 2011 season on Friday at Mike A. Myers Stadium against Loyola Marymount, Keith finds herself proud of what the team has accomplished through the offseason and preseason.
She points to the team's "mindset" and "willingness to fight through pain" as personal points of pride. And that revelation also reveals the journey Keith has taken, particularly for a player who arrived on the Forty Acres with little expectation and a lot to prove.
"Now I'm captain. It's been a pretty good climb for me," Keith says. "I've always been a really hard worker, but it also did push me, knowing that I could be better than (the coaches) expected.
"I just think I've grown a lot since I've been here, and I've earned more responsibility. More faith was put into me as a player."