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Women's soccer begins recognition program

Barry McNamara
Proudly wearing her new hat, Dean of Students Laura Hutchinson is pictured with junior midfielder Aspen Chadderdon at the Fighitng Scots' season opener at Peacock Park.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – The Woman of the Game for Monmouth College’s season-opening 5-0 soccer victory over Rockford University did not net the winning goal or post the shutout as the goalkeeper.

But Dean of Students Laura Hutchinson was just as thrilled as either of those Fighting Scots players to receive the inaugural honor in the Aug. 30 home game.

“I was very moved,” said Hutchinson. “It was an honor for me.”

Monmouth coach Nick Rizzo and his women’s soccer team were inspired to start the Woman of the Game honor this season by the U.S. women’s national team, which used the concept in matches leading up to this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

“Before one of the games, when the U.S. women came out to the field to warm up, they each had the name of a woman who had inspired them on the back of their warmups,” said Hutchinson.

Monmouth’s Woman of the Game prize package includes a new accessory, as well as the opportunity to sit with the team for the entire match.

“When Coach Rizzo contacted me about the honor, he said they wouldn’t be doing new warmups for everybody like the women’s national team did, but they could afford a hat,” said Hutchinson, who was presented the ball cap in a brief ceremony before the Scots kicked off their match. “I got to be with the team for their opening huddle, doing the slow clap with them and yelling ‘Roll Scots!’ I stayed with them the whole game. I was like a junior team member.”

Hutchinson said it was a refreshing way to interact with students.

“I don’t always get to do that type of thing,” she said. “Often, when I’m working with students, it’s helping them make the best of a bad situation.”

Rizzo said the Woman of the Game honor aligns with how his program approaches the sport.

“The goal of the program is to not only allow our players to honor those women on campus who have had such a big impact on their life, but to also connect more of our players to these incredible people,” said Rizzo. “One of the main goals of our soccer program here at Monmouth is to develop good human beings. Having these incredible women on campus continue to be inspirations to our players is a big part of that goal.”

Hutchinson was chosen as the first recipient due to the support she’s given the team. That includes making a three-hour road trip to Grinnell, Iowa, to watch the team play its last regular-season match in 2017, which ended with the Scots playing in the championship game of the Midwest Conference tournament. Hutchinson spoke to the team afterward in Grinnell, telling them how much she appreciated the hard work they’d put into the season.

“They’ve never forgotten that,” she said.

In addition to attending other Fighting Scots teams’ competitions, Hutchinson also makes it a point to attend the annual Fighting Scots Athletic Awards at the end of the spring semester.

Hutchinson said she gained a lot from being Woman of the Game, and she hopes the players did, too.

“It’s good for young women to see that there are role models out there of women who lead,” she said.

“Being able to have so many amazing women at Monmouth who support our program is incredible, and this is such a cool opportunity to let them know we really do appreciate their support and the many ways they have impacted us around campus,” said junior midfielder Aspen Chadderdon of Marshalltown, Iowa. “Having them on the sideline with us cheering us on is something I can’t wait to experience this year.”