The striker approaches closer to the goal, gaining speed as she does so, and there’s a range of emotions emanating from the sidelines. Parents, students, fellow teammates, all await the outcome of the breakaway. Sophomore Gabriella Heitmann, the goalkeeper, stays calm and blocks out all her distractions, ready for her moment.
Heitmann springs off her feet and lunges toward the ball in a risky yet promising maneuver. The ball collides with the her gloves and the save is made, as the crowd erupts in joy. She crashes to the blistering turf, and her vision is disoriented, but she quickly regains herself and stares down at the ball in between her two hands. She smiles and is assured that the game is saved, thanks to her.
Heitmann has taken the bull by the horns at this school. She has worked hard for everything she has accomplished, including being a part of the girls’ JV soccer team. Heitmann helped lead the team to an astounding record this past season, only letting in one goal the duration of the time.
These very abilities inevitably resulted in a spot on the varsity soccer team later in the season, just as the playoffs were kicking off. This adjustment was justifiably overwhelming to the athlete, as Heitmann said, “[Varsity] is a lot of work and commitment but, it pays off in the end. It’s intense, but in a good way.”
Along with Heitmann, two other sophomores were called up to compete with varsity, Carson Blum and Mary Quackenbush. Both are blissfully aware of the tolls that higher-level team takes on the players. However, both believe that Heitmann was up to the challenge, recognizing her sensational leadership abilities as well as her field savvy. “She’s very confident and you can rely on her,” Blum said, “She’s also very good at communicating.”
Quackenbush, also a goalkeeper, spends the most time with Heitmann during practices. “She has this kind of enthusiasm that is unbelievably amazing,” she said.
Ever since she was a three year-old girl with no idea about her future, Heitmann was instantly drawn to the sport of soccer. “My parents started me in MSI (Montgomery Soccer Incorporation),” Heitmann said, “and I realized that I was falling in love with soccer; so much so that it’s now my passion.”
Although she shines as a goalkeeper nowadays, Heitmann used to be proficient as an offensive player. “I started playing forward when I was younger,” Heitmann said, “but my team needed a goalie and my coach put me in there. I just stuck with it from then on.”
It’s clear that Heitmann has a profound passion for the sport and cites it as one of her biggest delights in her teenage life. “Having teammates, making new friends, and playing with your team is the best part about playing soccer, it’s just fun for me.”