KOKOMO, Ind. — Whether they came two miles, or two hundred to play, members of Indiana University Kokomo’s new women’s soccer season is excited to be playing its first season. The team has played two games so far, showing improvement with each one.
Coach Terry Stewart recruited athletes both in the campus’ back yard, with four Howard County athletes, and in neighboring states, as far away as the suburbs of St. Louis and Detroit, for the first team. He thinks he’s found the perfect group of women to begin the program.
We are truly blessed to have them,” he said. “They’re really getting after it in practice.”
It wasn’t an easy process to recruit a team from scratch, he said, noting he sent out many emails that were ignored. He added, however, that 95 percent of the players who visited the campus joined the program. It was the clean, beautiful campus and the small, friendly, family-like feel that made each athlete feel at home, he said.
Alexandrea Bustamante came the furthest, from Florissant, Missouri. The midfielder said it “felt like fate” that she was chosen for the team, after not playing her junior year of high school. She joined a club soccer team in her hometown, which is where Stewart saw her play, and invited her for a campus visit. She felt at home the moment she stepped on campus.
Kaitlyn Godwin, from Rochester Hills, Michigan, toured three other schools in the same three days she visited IU Kokomo, but felt the Cougars were the best choice. The campus felt comfortable, and she liked the positive dynamic between players and coaches.
Andi Williams came from Vincennes, in southern Indiana, for a recruitment soccer camp, and, like Bustamante, knew she had found where she wanted to play. She loves the feel of IU Kokomo, and said the campus was very nice, and not so big to overwhelm her.
The team members from Howard County include former Western High School athletes Faith Lytle and Sheris Plemons; Taylor Coram from Kokomo High School, and Greentown resident Cassie Bryan, who played at Eastern High School.
In the few weeks the team has practiced together, all three Cougars agree the on-field chemistry is coming very naturally. They already connect with each other so well, it feels as though they’ve been playing together for a long time.
Stewart isn’t just challenging his team to be the best they can be on the field, but in the classroom and community as well. He has had each player develop two athletic, academic, and personal goals and they are working daily to achieve them. They’ve also attended workshops on healthy meal preparation in the food and nutrition lab.
Aside from striving to make the conference tournament and having a winning record, the team is dedicated to giving back to the Kokomo community. They’ve already discussed ways they can serve the Open Arms shelter for women and children, the Kokomo Humane Society, the foster care system, and local elementary schools.
For more information, and a complete game schedule, go to iukcougars.com.
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.