The UC San Diego Women’s Soccer team opened training for its 2006 season Monday as the defending champions of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). The squad, which posted an 18-4 record last year, will have its share of big names on the roster, including CCAA Player of the Year Megan Dickey and three-time All-CCAA standout Kelly Cochran. But the success of this fall’s club may depend more on the performance of experienced players like junior Chelsey Campbell, who are expected to assume more significant roles. Campbell, a 5-6 midfielder out of nearby Rancho Bernardo High School, started four games a year ago, scoring one goal. Head Coach Brian McManus sees those numbers increasing dramatically. “Chelsey should be a starter in the midfield her last two seasons,” said McManus. “She’s got one of the hardest shots on the team and is capable of scoring a lot of goals.” Three days into pre-season camp, Campbell took time to talk about her team and the upcoming season.
Q—What’s the toughest part of pre-season practice?
CAMPBELL—Waking up early. We have to be on the field at . I’m lucky to be staying in the dorms so I’m nearby and can wake up around . Normally, I might get up around .
The practices are also tough on the legs. There’s a lot of running and you’re playing as hard as you can for four hours a day with the two practices. It’s extremely competitive because no one is promised a spot.
Q-What advice would you have for newcomers to the program?
CAMPBELL—Don’t be intimidated at all and play extremely aggressively. Don’t worry about making friends during tryouts—that will come later.
I was intimidated as a freshman—by the older players, the coaches, the situation. The returning players were obviously familiar with each other, the system and the drills. It was hard to gain respect.
It’s a short tryout period and a lot can be determined early. Joining any new team is always intimidating but there are a lot of different factors when you’re new to a college team.
Q—Last year’s team was successful by most accounts. What are the keys to matching that success or improving on it in 2006?
CAMPBELL—We need to be close on and off the field and generally bond as a team. Everyone needs to be able to accept constructive criticism and support each other for the good of the entire team.
Q—What do you expect will be the strengths of this year’s team?
CAMPBELL—Last year I would have said the defense but this year, I think we’ll be pretty strong down the sidelines—our forwards and outside mids. Kelly (Cochran) and Kathy (Sepulveda) have really good speed and should be able to beat teams up the field. We have a lot of good finishers like Megan (Dickey) and Alise (Malley) so I feel confident we’ll be able to score goals.
Q—From a soccer standpoint, what did you do during the summer?
CAMPBELL—I’m still young enough that I was able to play in the State Cup again with my club team so I did that as well as played a lot of indoor soccer. Since I live locally, I was also able to participate in the conditioning program UCSD offers.
It seems like you’re never really where you want to be in terms of fitness because while you may be “in shape,” being in “game shape” is an entirely different thing. You only get into game shape by playing games. I try to stay in at least “running shape” over the summer.
Q—Is there a part of your game that you think will be better this year?
CAMPBELL—I think I’ll be stronger, more physical this year. The best thing we did was start lifting weights more seriously. I’m hoping the training done during the spring and summer will make it a lot tougher to knock me off the ball.
Q—Can you give us a quick rundown of the first few days of practice?
CAMPBELL—A lot of competition. The thing is, you’re never safe and you never know what Brian’s going to do. You’re put in position to play against returnees as well as the players who will be competing for your spot.
There’s a lot of sorting out as the coaches try to make all the pieces fit into the best team possible. Of course, we do a lot of running and conditioning as well.
Q—You chose to stay close to home for college. Why did you do that and have you been happy with the decision?
CAMPBELL—I wanted to get into the best school I could and win a national championship playing soccer. I couldn’t think of a better school to do that than UCSD.
It’s a great place, plus it’s far enough away from home to have my space but when I need the comfort of home or a home-cooked meal, its just a short drive away.
Q—What are some of the things you enjoy doing away from the soccer field?
CAMPBELL—I love to dance. I danced all through high school on a jazz dance team which is the most basic form of dance. You have to be flexible and you can do just about anything with it—hip hop, ballet, anything. Once, when I was younger, I got my whole soccer team to do it. It seems like soccer players in general like to dance. Our team has music on all the time.
I also like to go to the beach. I lived with four of the girls on the team last year and we did just about everything together.
Q—You’re a sociology and political science major. What kind of career goals do you have?
CAMPBELL—I want to go to graduate school, I’m just not sure for what yet. I know I want to work with people.
Originally, I was interested in criminology but I’m not sure I want to get into a career where you go in to the same thing everyday.
Q—Who on the team has a particular skill you would like to have?
CAMPBELL—Caitlin Ryan, in a heartbeat. She is so good on the ball and reads the game better than anyone I’ve ever played with.