Blue Demons Bonding and Singing in Preseason Training
Aug. 2, 2012
What will people remember about this upcoming season?
“The legacy I’d like to leave behind is becoming the first DePaul women’s soccer team to qualify for the NCAA tournament and that made an impact on the BIG EAST Conference,” said Blumberg, a senior forward. “I want people to think that this is a team that will give you a run for your money.
“Coach (Erin Chastain) told us Ashleigh and I have to be the sparks of the team.”
Goddard nodded her head in agreement.
“We need to have that fire in our stomach,” said Goddard, a junior midfielder. “Even when Kelly and I are exhausted, we have to push ourselves and our teammates to do a little bit more.
“It’s no secret we didn’t play up to our expectations last season, and that’s not going to happen anymore. What happened last year is giving us a lot of motivation. We’re stronger this year with quality depth.”
Chastain pared down her roster from 28 to 21 in an effort to enhance team chemistry prior to the Blue Demons’ Aug. 11 exhibition match at Northwestern and their season opener Aug. 17 at Wish Field against Towson.
“As a coaching staff, we made a conscious decision going with a smaller roster that enables us to work with individual players even more,” Chastain said. “All the players will feel more invested with what we’re doing.
“All of them could be called upon in a big moment, and they are all going to be contributors to the team’s success. A large group is harder to manage, and you’ll have players not getting playing time.
“Portland is a good example of a Top 25 program that consistently carries around 20 players on its roster. Minnesota usually has around 20 players, and smaller rosters are common at private schools. Coaches try to find out what works for their own program.”
What works at DePaul is a tradition of upperclassmen looking out for the younger players.
Team-bonding activities, rooming assignments pairing veterans with rookies and a creative song contest have the Blue Demons on a close-knit start to preseason training.
“On Wednesday night we had a song contest---sort of an American Idol-DePaul style,” Blumberg said with a laugh. "It was Ashleigh’s team against my team. We had 30 minutes to come up with a song and change the lyrics to stuff about DePaul and soccer. Then we performed it to each other.”
“Kelly’s Crooners” performed “Glad You Came” by the Wanted while “The Goddard Group” sang “Barbie Girl” by Aqua.
“I thought my group did rather well,” Goddard said. “Then I heard Kelly’s song, and they definitely won the contest."
They go out for dinner 21-strong and also break up into smaller groups for other dinner excursions. A favorite outing is a walk down Webster Avenue to John’s Place for dinner followed by a stop two doors down at Sweet Mandy B’s for dessert.
“Everything was new for me in my freshman year---new school, new country,” said Goddard, whose hometown is currently hosting the Summer Olympics. “I had never been to the USA before. I was really at a loss. The team was so helpful, and the players really embraced me straight away.
Blumberg received the red-carpet treatment in 2009.
“The upperclassmen were so welcoming my freshman year,” she said. “I need to remember how they treated me and treat the new freshmen the same way.
“Pagone texted me the other day asking how preseason training was going. She remains so involved and wants to still be a part of it. She is a good example of a former Blue Demon who still has a passion for the sport of soccer and for the team.”
Chastain has reasons to be optimistic heading into her sixth season at DePaul.
“We have a good core returning from the extremely young team we had last year,” Chastain said. “We return athletes who played a lot of minutes. There are good incoming players who will make an impact right away and add to the dynamic of our core group.
“I like the way the team came together in the spring as a cohesive group with good chemistry, and that’s going to carry over into the fall. The six incoming players are an integral part of that chemistry.
“I look for that to help us get off to a good start.”