Sierra Shafer gets unexpected chance to walk on as backup goalkeeper for SU

first_imgDeciding between sports and academics was the hardest decision Sierra Shafer had to make. The three-sport high school athlete had been accepted into Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, but the Orange’s coaching staff never responded when she sent in her highlight tape. She would have been able to play at any of the other schools she was accepted into.Shafer eventually chose Syracuse, eliminating her chance to play at the collegiate level. She joined clubs and reported for Citrus TV. She even won the N. James Polney Award, which is given to Newhouse’s freshman of the year. Even without soccer in her life, Shafer was was involved at SU.But the summer in between her freshman and sophomore years, she received a chance to play soccer at SU.“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Shafer said of when she was invited for a tryout. “I woke up one morning and was checking my phone and saw I had an e-mail from (assistant coach) Neal Bhattacharjee … I literally didn’t believe it. I had to read it 10 times.”Shafer impressed in tryouts and made the team. Ever since, she has been the third-string goalie for SU. Though she is behind all-Atlantic Coast Conference goalie Courtney Brosnan, the junior has learned from goalie specialist and head coach Phil Wheddon.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe team was short on goalies and the coaching staff had remembered Shafer’s video from her application.Shafer woke her mom up with the news, who sprang out of bed in shock. She went to work for her job at SU Athletics later that morning and discussed it with her boss, Sue Edson, who recommended taking advantage of the offer.“Within a week, it was everything from signing papers (to) getting NCAA stuff in, going through compliance and within a week I was just on the team,” Shafer said. “It was the craziest experience of my life.”Once the frenzy of joining the team died down, Shafer began to acknowledge her place on the team. She didn’t expect to overtake Brosnan, one of her closest friends and Syracuse’s starting keeper.But Shafer was rapidly improving on the field with help from Wheddon, who has coached with both the men’s and women’s U.S. National Team programs. Wheddon took extra care of the goalies, Shafer said.“Obviously she was good from the start,” Brosnan said, “but working with (Wheddon) who is one of the best goalie coaches around, and she’s definitely raising the bar.”Despite improving, Shafer still only joins the team for home games. She doesn’t get time on the field, but recognizes how she can contribute.“My goal is to travel with the team and to influence people in a way that I don’t have to be on the field,” Shafer said. “but I can cheer them on and encourage them and work off the field.” Comments Published on October 7, 2015 at 10:32 pm Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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