Photos By Tim Sanger, Carrie Snyder, Ryan Workman and Nolan P. Schmidt
Keeping perspective and a positive mindset should be at the forefront of our psyche, regardless of if we are athletes or professionals. Taking things into perspective and creating a positive outcome can be infectious to yourself and others. Athletics are a great example of where this philosophy rings true.
Have one conversation with senior midfielder Brookelyn Dew and you’ll learn that she has adopted this mentality.
Along with NDSU’s other fall sports, soccer saw their season postponed to the spring just as the regular season was set to begin. Rather than begin in late August, the senior and her teammates will look to play their first game sometime in February 2021.
Did this news alter Dew’s attitudes towards playing soccer? No
Did it place her in a negative headspace? No
Did it allow her to find the positives in this negative situation? Yes
All of this when Dew has the option to set soccer aside for good as she plans to graduate with a degree in Psychology in December.
Despite games being moved and some being canceled altogether, Dew cannot stop talking about how good Bison soccer will be when they do inevitably get back on the pitch. Rather than dwell on the inability to compete, she highlights how much the team has improved in this extended “preseason” period.
That attitude will not only carry her far in athletics, but in life after soccer as well.
Dew discussed her decision to return for a spring soccer season and her excitement about getting back on the pitch.
What was the team’s reaction to seeing the fall season postponed considering you guys had not been able to play spring games or make your foreign trip to England either?
We were preparing to the very end and we kind of were operating under the idea that we were going to play so we trained like that. We trained really hard throughout preseason and we were a good two weeks in when Matt Larsen brought us into a meeting room. He said this hurts him as much as it hurt us and that we were the first ones to find out. That was amazing and the athletics staff has been great about making us feel cared for and comfortable. The whole room was silent though and they asked us if we had any questions, which obviously none of us did at that moment. It meant that we weren’t going to play, that’s all we needed to know.
We just took the night to think about it, the next morning we all met and decided to take the next day off. The following day, we were back and preparing for the season we hopefully have coming. We didn’t know what it was going to be like, but everyone had the attitude that this is a really great time for us to get better.
We missed out on a lot of training in March, a couple of games and a trip to England. We were supposed to play the most games we’ve ever played last spring and we missed out on all of that. The thought was that since we missed those chances, this is a great time to get our freshmen on board and our systems in place. That way, when we come to play in February, we know that practices are just as important.
This prolonged period without games has some positives to it. How has it helped the freshmen class and transfers get up to speed?
We do have a very smart group so they were picking it up quickly. When you think about it, preseason starts in August and you have two weeks before your first game. Now, we have all this time to train, put in our offense and defense and it’s crazy to think how much we have improved even through COVID. We have had so much time to work on the details and bring everyone up to speed.
We have a really good opportunity this spring to have our freshmen ready to play. Usually when you bring in freshmen, even if they’re studs, they have to know the system and know their role. Even if they are the best player on the team, they might not understand the way that we play. Because of this extra time, I feel like everyone has gotten on the same page. It’s been really impressive.
How do you stay motivated when you and the team will go over a year without competing?
There is so much uncertainty. I am a senior and I missed out on playing a fall season and we will potentially play this spring. I’m most likely planning to stay and play next fall too, but there was so much uncertainty. We had to kind of pretend that everything was normal.
And we practice, but we also simulate games too. So we’re actually competing once a week which has been really beneficial for us. We put on our jerseys and simulate a full game day and that gets us excited because we haven’t played since March. It’s a nice feeling to come here on Wednesdays, get dressed up and compete against someone even if it is against each other.
It is a very individualized motivation though. You have to find it within yourself and it really proves that not just anyone can pick up a soccer ball and decide to play college sports. This is a full-time commitment.
You had the option to move on from soccer since you are a senior. What was that decision-making process like for you and how did you come to that decision? Being a Fargo resident, did that factor in at all?
I graduate in December so I had that option where I could be done and move on with my life. I just wasn’t ready to let it go. I was promised 20 or so more games and I was really looking forward to this fall. Your senior year is when you make the most memories and impact on the team in a leadership role. I wanted a longer opportunity to continue that and I didn’t think that I was ready to be done yet. When we had the opportunity to be able to stay all the way through next fall and guaranteed a full season and a chance at the NCAA Tournament, that’s been the dream since I got here. We haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament in the time that I’ve been here and that’s always the goal along with winning the Summit League and beating SDSU and Denver.
The atmosphere has changed where everyone wants to be safe and cautious, but the mentality around here has not changed.
This is always where I wanted to be. I came to NDSU camps, attended every game and watching year after year of all these teams that had success, I knew it was a program I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to find that success here and be with a team under a coaching staff that has a high-performance mentality and always wants to win.
Last year, we fell short and we didn’t even make the Summit League Tournament. That hurt a lot. This year, we’re coming back with talent and a lot of the same players. Everyone is pretty driven to get back to that and not having that opportunity this fall was heartbreaking. We wanted another chance to get to that tournament. This spring, we don’t know if there will be an opportunity to have a full Summit League Tournament or NCAA Tournament. I felt like staying through the fall was a pretty easy decision.
How do you take these circumstances in stride ahead of the potential spring season?
It’s about taking each day as it comes and taking things day by day. This is a good opportunity for me and all of my teammates to improve. I feel like since I have gotten to NDSU, I have made huge strides. Now, I feel like I’m getting to the point where I am on my game and I know what I need to do to improve. It’s about fixing the little details at this point so it makes me excited that I get to compete against people other than my teammates in the near future.
We’re a force to be reckoned with this year. I think we’re going to kind of come out of nowhere this year. I don’t think they’re expecting us to be as good as we’re going to be. We have a lot of talent in our freshmen class and all of our returners too. It’s looking good.
What has this whole pandemic shown you about NDSU athletics as a whole?
The past speaks for itself. NDSU is known for having the championships, the winning mentality and the intensity within each program. You can tell that everyone is still that way. We could have just as easily used this as an excuse, take a step back, do schoolwork from home and train when it’s convenient.
We could have taken the whole fall off, that was an option. They asked us at every step what we wanted to do and everyone’s response was that we wanted to get back to it.
Matt Larsen coming in and talking to us, you could see how much it hurt him. We knew that they were fighting so hard for us to be able to play this fall. It was not NDSU that didn’t want to play this fall. They have done everything in their power to keep us safe. I feel so safe here.
The other thing that has been so impressive is everyone’s attitude. You know there has to be budget cuts and things like that because we are not competing. If you were to walk around here, you would never know that was happening. The atmosphere has changed where everyone wants to be safe and cautious, but the mentality around here has not changed. Everyone is still focused on the student-athletes and making sure we’re getting taken care of.