Senior Mikaela Zook wrapped up her soccer career with an All-ODAC award. Zook was a force to be reckoned with on EMU’s defensive line, and this week she was voted onto the All-ODAC Third Team by the other coaches in the conference.
Zook transferred to EMU her junior year, after spending two years at Hesston College.
“Selfishly, I wish we could have had her for all four years,” said Coach Ted Erickson. “She is a true competitor who shows up to work hard every day, never moans about the hard practices, and is great to her teammates.”
Zook took a leap of faith when she came to EMU.
“Coming in, I didn’t know anyone,” she said, “so … that was a hard transition.”
She had to get to know a whole new team.
“Beginning of last season, I didn’t play as much because I had to earn my spot on the team, earn my role, too, and my position as an outside defender, but initially that role was already filled.”
However, it did not take too long for Zook to find her groove on the team.
“I guess maybe mid-season I started playing outside back, and then I just sort of stayed there,” she said.
“Mikaela has been a blessing since day one of transferring in from Hesston,” Erickson said.
Zook prepared for her second and senior season with the Royals by running with her sisters and going to the gym.
“I actually love running, so that’s kind of a hobby,” Zook said. “It releases stress.”
The team chemistry was a highlight of the season for Zook.
“Everyone got along, and the incoming freshmen were just awesome,” she said. “We were all competitive with each other, like all of our positions were very competitive in terms of who started, who played, but I don’t think we let that interfere with the relationships on the team.”
Zook worked to provide guidance to the freshmen defenders she played with, but the main way she led her team this year was by helping to facilitate good teamwork.
“I kind of just do my job,” Zook said. “I think it’s more of just a team effort is how I look at leadership, so like working well together.”
Zook is a health and physical education major with a kinesiology minor.
“I plan to stay in Harrisonburg for a couple years, but I’m also student teaching next fall. I have an extra semester because of the transfer.”
Zook reflects on closing her soccer career with the All-ODAC recognition.
“I would say it’s overall rewarding, but also kind of sad that I’m closing that chapter in my life which has been a part of my life since, I don’t know, third grade,” Zook said. “So [I’ll be] finding something else to replace that.”
Zook’s parents initially wanted her to play basketball, which she did for many years, but her true love was soccer.
“I kept coming back to soccer, and I kept wanting to play more,” she said. “And I think as the years went on my parents kind of started to like soccer.”
Zook appreciated having her teammates this season to lift her spirits at the end of the day.
“I think a major highlight of the season was that I [could] go from having a not so good day of classes … and just go to practice, and there are girls on the team that are always so happy, and it’s so contagious,” Zook said. “I’m definitely going to miss the personalities and playing with them in general.”
“We will miss Mikaela,” said Erickson, “and her shoes will be extremely hard to fill next season. But we are excited to see her become a truly amazing teacher.”