SCTV3’s Marc Rogers catches up with Katie Mantie heading into the team’s NEWMAC postseason tournament.
Assistant Sports Editor
Katie Mantie refuses to think about life after soccer. When pressed with questions about the issue, from anyone on campus, she switches subjects. Or she tells them she will be playing in the NCAA National Championship game, the furthest possible date her soccer career could be carried out until. That comment breeds some confidence and optimism similar to anyone who does not want something they love to end. The way Mantie, co-captain of the women’s soccer team, and her teammates are playing, the end to an amazing career doesn’t look like it will be anytime soon.
Mantie’s soccer career started earlier than most. Her aunt bought her first pair of soccer cleats and a soccer ball for her at the age of three. She joined her first soccer team in kindergarten, when most kids are more interested in finger painting or beginning to master the alphabet, both upper and lower cases. For Mantie, it was the time when her love for the game was established, and her co-ed kindergarten team proved to be only the beginning.
Fast-forward through 16 years of school and soccer, and one can find Mantie ready to take the field at the Irv Schmid Sports Complex at Springfield College. Thousands of games and practices in-between kindergarten-Katie and the senior co-captain of today have helped form who Mantie is now, both as a person and as a soccer player.
Mantie knows that her team controls its own destiny as far as the NEWMAC regular season title goes, and as usual, Mantie led by example against visiting Clark University on Tuesday night. Mantie, and fellow senior captain Jackie Moscardelli, led the team off the field following another victory, hardly a surprise for Pride fans, as victories have become expected for women’s soccer teams under Coach John Gibson. This team is now 10-3-1 overall, 6-0-1 in NEWMAC play and has risen to No. 21 in the NSCAA national poll. The usual for Mantie includes a goal, of course, which marks her team-leading 10th goal of the year.
Mantie plays with an aggression and a knack for scoring opportunities that few others in the conference can claim. Mantie, with the help of tremendous play and passing by her teammates, has fired 44 shots, 30 of which were on goal, so far this season. Of the 10 wins that the women’s soccer team possesses thus far, Mantie has recorded seven of the goals that proved to be eventual game-winners. Mantie is the type of teammate that attributes a statistic like that to the play of her teammates and the opportunities they provide her with, rather than self-gloating.
“Knowing that it’s my last year, I’m trying to make the most of every single time I step onto the field and my teammates have made it so much better,” said Mantie.
Another person Mantie credits for much of her success is Gibson.
“Over the past four years, I think that I have changed as a player, and coach has been there every step of the way. He never gave up on me, and I think the work that he has put in and every day of hard work at practice has contributed to my growth as a player,” said Mantie. “Off the field, he has always been there to give encouragement and advice when I needed it and has definitely helped me when things were tough with school.”
Gibson has instilled certain qualities in his players that four-year contributors like Mantie will never forget. Her time at SC has provided her with a much better understanding of what it takes to be a truly successful student-athlete, both on and off the field.
“I think first and foremost, it takes a love for the game. You prepare all spring and summer for a season that only lasts a few months. And, at this level, I think it takes a great team, which I’m so lucky to have,” said Mantie. “We are there to push each other every day at practice, which pays off during the games.”
Mantie also mentions that “perseverance” is a necessary quality for a strong person and a strong soccer player to have. One can only imagine how perseverance played a role in Mantie and the rest of the team’s lives with the unexpected, tragic death of beloved teammate Kate Richardson this summer. It is times like those when teammates come together and realize that a team being a family is no truer than it was then.
“Richie” was remembered by Mantie as someone who never took a day of practice lightly, and someone who was truly passionate about soccer and about life. Some of the qualities Mantie tries to exemplify as a captain were learned directly from Richardson. She recalled one particular instance where a stray beagle found its way to the practice field towards the end of practice. Mantie remembers “Richie” as the one who called animal control as many of the other girls were leaving. Richardson refused to leave until animal control arrived, and then called the pound for the next few weeks until the dog found a safe home.
The compassion, loyalty and drive that Mantie’s old teammate possessed helped to shape the player and person Mantie is today. Mantie is so selfless and team-oriented that she says the key to being a great captain is to “have a great co-captain.” In Mantie’s eyes, she has that and then some in Moscardelli.
“I wasn’t a captain for my high school team, so this is all new to me. Jackie’s the one who comes up with great pre-game speeches and gets everyone amped up for the game. Her emotion really shows, and I think that’s one of the things that help to get the team going before games,” said Mantie. “Another thing is hard work, especially at practice. I feel like I have to set an example for my teammates and set the bar high, even during practices.”
Moscardelli and Mantie will lead their squad into this Saturday’s away game against Babson, putting their six-game winning streak on the line. Babson comes into play with an identical NEWMAC record of 6-0-1, and the winner will stand alone in first place.
“I expect another very hard game. We’re away from home, so it’s going to be tough, but we’re definitely up for the game,” said Gibson.
Mantie, in particular, will again take the field with the passion and love for the game that has been brewing inside of her since kindergarten.
Dylan Tully may be reached at email@example.com