Getting Back to Speed
Nov. 27, 2001
By Steve Hitchcock
Life can be tough for a freshman athlete. In addition to the typical freshman concerns - adjusting to a new environment, taking challenging classes, and finding a healthy meal - there's the added stress of studying playbooks, and budgeting in practice schedules and road trips.
For Tina Frimpong, though, balancing responsibilities is nothing new. The Husky freshman from Vancouver, Wash., succeeded to the tune of a team-leading seven goals, helping the Huskies to a second-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. And did we mention that she is also a full-time mother to eight-month-old MacKenzie?
'It's a lot of work - a lot - but it's fun,' she says. 'You're playing on the soccer field and putting your all into that, but you know once you're off the soccer field you have a daughter who needs you. It puts things into perspective. Soccer is an amazing thing, and I love it to death, but MacKenzie comes first.'
Frimpong earned Greater St. Helens League MVP honors her senior year at Hudson's Bay High School, and committed to Santa Clara after a heavy recruiting process. Her pregnancy, though, put her immediate soccer plans on hold, but Frimpong knew she couldn't give up the game for good.
'My priorities and dreams were still the same,' she says. 'MacKenzie is just something to add to that, she's an addition to my dreams and goals. I'm pretty excited to keep going and obtain the things I want to obtain.'
Although the question loomed if she could return to her previously high level of play, Washington head coach Lesle Gallimore still saw incredible talent in Frimpong, and when Santa Clara backed away, Gallimore offered her a full scholarship to join the Huskies.
'The thing that I saw in her last two years of high school were that she was able to combine her speed with her skill,' Gallimore says. 'She became a very proficient player with the ball, with quick feet, quickness on the turn and the ability to get shots off.'
Frimpong's choice to accept Gallimore's offer has paid dividends on both ends. Besides leading the team in goals and posting two multi-goal games - including a hat trick (three goals) against Idaho - Frimpong has also played in every game this season, casting aside any doubts as to her stamina. The other of Frimpong's traits that was most questioned following MacKenzie's birth, her speed, has also proven to be an asset.
'Tina at 75 percent is probably faster than anyone else on our team,' Gallimore says. 'She has a different gear.'
'I've been working on getting my tactical game to work with my speed,' adds Frimpong. 'Right now I'm about 90 percent. Once I finish a full year and get used to playing more, I'll be 100 percent. I'm almost there, but there are a few things that still need work. Our whole team has a lot of speed now which is something we haven't had in the past.'
Frimpong has been playing soccer since she was five, along with her twin sister Crystal who now plays for Florida. In 1998 and 1999, the Husky freshman was a part of the Lake Oswego Soccer Club which won back-to-back Oregon state club championships.\ She also had the honor of playing in the Washington State Olympic Development Program.
As for the future, Frimpong is still undecided as to what kind of role soccer will play in her life.
'I would love to play soccer as long as I can, but I don't know what God wants,' she says. 'I just know that whatever happens, happens, and MacKenzie and I will go on with our lives. I really don't know what will happen in the future, but I hope soccer is in it.'
True freshmen leading the team in scoring, now that's rare. With Frimpong just rounding out her freshman year, though, the continued success of Washington's women's soccer program will be anything but.