In less than 50 days, Rachel Zobott will head off to a new world – college soccer.
At Zobott’s chosen school, UIC, the Huntley graduate won’t be the only new addition on campus. On Aug. 22, the NCAA Division I Flames will play their first women’s soccer match in school history as a first-year program.
“I wanted to be a part of that,” Zobott said. “That was one of the appeals to it. I wanted to be part of setting a tone and starting traditions for the future UIC women’s soccer teams.”
As one of 20 incoming freshmen, Zobott will be among plenty of new faces on the 25-player roster. One person who is not new to UIC or Chicago is the Flames’ head coach, Brian Rigby.
Recently, Rigby served as an assistant coach for the women’s programs at Loyola and DePaul. As a player, he spent four seasons at UIC, including two as a team captain in 1996 and 1997.
“They will be part of something special,” Rigby said of his players. “It’s something they can look back on and know … they opened up opportunities for a lot of other women. There’s a lot of excitement on campus, in our community, with our fan base and our parent base.”
Rigby said he pitched recruits on the school’s numerous courses of study.
“I also talked about all of the internship and job opportunities here being so close to downtown,” he said.
UIC will play exhibition games Aug. 12 at Bowling Green and Aug. 16 against IPFW in Chicago before the season-opening trip to Edwardsville on Aug. 22.
“There will be a lot of butterflies,” Rigby said. “That’s to be expected when you don’t know what to expect.”
One expectation he does have, however, is a potentially varied contribution from Zobott. Although she is listed on the school’s roster as a defender, the 5-foot-10 Zobott could see time at other spots as well.
“I really love her soccer IQ and her versatility,” Rigby said. “Rachel has great knowledge of the game. She can not only play as a center back (on defense) for us, but anywhere in the midfield as well.”
For Zobott, her preference is to play whatever position gives her team the best chance to succeed.
“My first choice would be to play center defense,” she said. “However, in order to help the team, I will play wherever he wants me to play.”
Augie achievers: Two local athletes won team awards this spring for D-III Augustana’s track and field programs.
Richmond-Burton grad Josh Eisenberg, a senior multi-event specialist, was named the men’s team’s Most Valuable Performer in track events.
Crystal Lake South grad Laura Polizzi, a junior triple jumper, shared the women’s team’s Susan Wall Most Improved Award.
Eisenberg was a second-team All-American at the D-III indoor nationals (12th in heptathlon) and outdoor nationals (16th in decathlon). Last month, Eisenberg was a first-team selection to the Capital One Academic All-American Team. A recent Augustana graduate, Eisenberg had a 3.96 grade-point average while majoring in biology and pre-medicine.
NCAA track honors: Cary-Grove grads Kelly McCoy (Iowa State) and Josh Freeman (Southern Illinois) earned honorable mention All-America honors last month at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon.
McCoy, a senior high jumper, placed 18th in the event at nationals by clearing 5 feet, 7 3/4 inches. This season, McCoy set a personal record five times, highlighted by a jump of 5-9 ¾ at the NCAA West Regional to advance to nationals. She ranks as the No. 4 high jumper in program history.
Freeman placed 21st in the shot put with a toss of 59-5. A sophomore, Freeman competed in the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets this season. He won the Missouri Valley Conference outdoor meet with a school- and conference-record throw of 65-2.
Cougar contributors: McHenry’s Chase Matheson posted team highs of 15 doubles and 33 RBIs this season for D-I Chicago State’s baseball team.
Matheson, a junior who primarily played third base, batted .289 while starting 50 games for the Cougars (17-37).
Junior infielder Matt Schmidt (Jacobs) batted .283 while starting 27 games. He had 15 RBIs and a .360 on-base percentage.
Huntley grad Nick Kostalek, a junior pitcher, was 4-2 on the mound to lead the team in wins. He also produced a 4.42 ERA in 26 appearances, the second-highest total on the team. Fellow pitcher Joe Ross, a junior from Jacobs, pitched in 10 games.
All four local athletes previously played at McHenry County College.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryOnCampus.