Sept. 15, 2010
By Lauren Chval
Notre Dame women’s soccer senior co-captain Lauren Fowlkes is a force to be reckoned with on and off the field. She is versatile enough to play all three field positions to great success, has achieved All-America numbers as well as Academic All-America honors, and is known by her teammates as “Wild Indian” because of her vocal leadership.
“During practice and games, she screams and it sounds like some kind of an Indian war cry from those old Western movies,” says her coach, Randy Waldrum.
Fowlkes agrees that she can be “pretty loud.” The defender came to Notre Dame from St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City and has been playing soccer since she was four years old.
“From the start I was always one of the better players, if that’s possible as a four year old,” Fowlkes says. “I was sort of a little tomboy growing up. When I started it was about being competitive–I was always super competitive as a little kid, and I still am. That type of environment is what soccer brings all over the field and all throughout the sport.”
Fowlkes herself brings competitiveness all over the field, too. Last season, she moved up to forward after spending her whole college career at either defense or midfield.
“We were just having trouble early on scoring goals,” she says. “For some reason having me up there helped. They needed someone to hold the ball and be a bigger presence.”
Her authority and confidence on the field is exactly what Waldrum cites as the key to Fowlkes’ versatility.
“She has the physical presence to play in different positions,” he says. “She is physically tall and strong, so she is good defensively in the air, and in her tackling ability. But these same qualities help her when we play her up front as a forward because she is strong enough to hold the ball with her back to pressure, much like a center in basketball.”
Fowlkes believes playing all over the field is just a matter of getting used to the different roles each position demands and by this point she has established a handle on each responsibility.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve been one of those players that coaches felt they could throw around,” Fowlkes says. “I don’t know if it has something to do with the way I read the game, or the way I see it, but I think that might have a decent amount to do with it.”
Although Fowlkes was the first student from Kansas City to come play soccer for Notre Dame, three players from St. Teresa’s have joined the Irish since. Junior midfielder Molly Campbell played with Fowlkes in high school and has been her college teammate for three years.
“She’s definitely always been a leader,” Campbell says. “She’s always been really committed in wanting to get to the highest level. You can always count on her to come in and play confidently. When she’s playing defense you know she’s not going to give anything up; she won’t back down.”
Waldrum points to both her aggressive spirit and her leadership as high qualifications for Fowlkes’ captainship.
“She is highly competitive, and has that `winning’ mentality that most top elite athletes have,” he says. “She is a great teammate because she cares about others, and is good in helping handle each one personally when there are issues on or off the field. As a captain, on the field I need her field generalship ability and off I need her to help our team make good decisions academically and socially.”
Fowlkes hopes to set the example for her team as Waldrum says without changing her attitude too much.
“When you’re elected captain it’s not necessarily that you’re much different than you were before, but I think this year I’m going to be more attentive to everyone on the team–the whole team dynamic,” she says.
She points to her teammates when asked about her personal recognitions, referring to them as her best moments of the sport.
“I did have a really good season [last year], and I’m really fortunate,” she says. “It’s all about the players around you as well. That’s what happens when you’re on a great team–they make you look good anywhere. The whole experience has been amazing, and there have been Big East titles throughout. But the things you remember most is the time you spend with your teammates and just stuff off the field.”
With the Irish off to a 5-1 start going into this week’s games at DePaul and Northwestern, it is obvious what main goal is on Fowlkes’ mind this year as both a senior and a captain–the elusive national championship. Her drive makes her look to push herself and her team to that point she knows they can reach.
“Our big goal every year is obviously to win the national championship,” Fowlkes says. “You have little goals along the way like do well in your non-conference schedule early on so you can be home throughout the playoffs. Do well. Win the Big East. But I think if we don’t accomplish that one goal of winning the national championship we might feel like we had a good season, but it won’t feel like a complete season.”