Stepping in as a defensive player can be difficult for any freshman. The position requires being a vocal leader on the field, and it takes a person who has earned the respect and trust of her teammates.

But defender Skylar Andrews has made it look easy. In her first season with the Michigan women’s soccer team, she has started 17 games and made an immediate impact on the Wolverines’ defense.

“She’s intense, and she’s very competitive,” Michigan coach Debbie Rademacher said. “She’s a hard player – she tackles hard, she’s in the air, she’s got good speed.”

Whether or not Andrews would have the ability to contribute to the Michigan defense was not much of a concern for Rademacher, who knew Andrews had the training and talent to compete at the collegiate level.

“We knew we needed to add some speed in our defensive line,” Rademacher said. “And she had come up from a very good club team, so we knew that she had good a prep career. And we just thought she’d be a good fit for us.”

Andrews was a two-time captain of the 2004 North Texas Regional Champion Dallas Texans, who competed in the national championship finals in 2004.

Though Skylar is new to collegiate athletics, her father, Lo Andrews, is no stranger to the demands it entails. He played basketball for Oklahoma State from 1979 to 1983. Andrews was encouraged to attend her father’s alma mater, but she chose Michigan instead.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Andrews said. “I did get a little pressure, but my dad was really understanding. And I knew I wanted to go to a big-time school, and Michigan is a big-time school.”

Andrews believed that Michigan had a lot to offer her, including a combination of great academics and competitive athletics, and she knew the reputation a school like Michigan carried. Plus, Michigan gave Andrews the opportunity to come into a program and contribute immediately.

“Since I’ve come to Michigan, I think my confidence has just grown,” Andrews said. “And being able to play against big-time players in the Big Ten and being able to compete with them and play on their level has really given me the confidence to know that I can defend them and I can beat them.”

Though Michigan is a long way from Dallas, she still feels connected with her family – she talks to her mom almost daily and her parents have made it to a few games this season.

“My dad plans ‘business trips’ that just happen to correlate to our schedule, so I have been able to see them a lot this season,” Andrews said.

The experience Andrews has gained this season has improved her on-field decision-making and consistency, and Rademacher anticipates more of the same in the future.

“The sky’s the limit for her,” Rademacher said. “It will be great to work with her in the offseason and work on different aspects of her game. Even physically, we can deepen her fitness base and get her even stronger and faster. And I think she’s going to improve every year.”

Andrews has stepped into a difficult role as freshman, but in 17 games she believes she has become a vocal leader of the defense and has established herself as a physical presence on the field.

And she only hopes that, as her collegiate career progresses, her maturity and experience will make her an even greater asset to the Wolverines’ defense.

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