Inside the successful Fall semester of the Panthers’ women’s soccer team

Illustration by Devin Phillips

It is no coincidence that sports have been on pause worldwide, causing individuals to quarantine while watching reruns of previous games on television to fill the void of not having any live games to watch. But, teams are still preparing for competitive play to resume when it does.  

Before sports take priority in student-athletes’ lives, academics come first, which most individuals worry about because they must stay eligible to compete.

This is certainly no issue for the Georgia State women’s soccer team, as one of the team’s main priorities is academic success. The team achieved a 3.61 average this academic year with 28 students obtaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 

Sophomore Maria Howell is a forward and midfielder. She also plays a valuable role in the team’s academic success. She earned a spot on the president’s list for the fall 2019 and spring 2020 terms.  

“Performance in the classroom is probably at the top of the list for the team,” she said. “If you don’t perform well in the classroom, then you don’t play.”

For Howell, performing in the classroom is essential, but scoring a goal adds way more excitement to the players than doing well on a test and getting a good grade in school. 

“I would say the feeling of joy and excitement that follows a goal is more gratifying than that of a good grade,” she said. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, good grades are important, and it’s super rewarding to see all that all the hours of studying are paying off.”

Although Howell expresses the importance of school work, she also understands the excitement of being on a unit with one common goal: to go out on the pitch and fashionably win every game. The hours of hard work, sweat and unforgettable practices lead to the exciting moments she gets to share with her teammates.  

But, with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, and both fall and spring sports in jeopardy of being canceled right now, there is no timetable for when those moments could come back. Howell understands this but does her best to focus on the upcoming campaign for her squad. 

“Honestly, I will be happy if we have a season. With the current pandemic, it is unclear what our season will look like,” she said. “But my goal is that we make the best of whatever playing time we do get.”

As Howell and the team look to impress in the classroom once again, they are also looking forward to competitive play to show the rest of the Sun Belt Conference what they are made of on the pitch.