Some kids play with blocks when they are in kindergarten. Others play with paint or toys. Therese Heaton played soccer.
“My mom just signed me up with my brother,” Heaton said. “I started playing and I loved it, and have been playing ever since.”
Heaton, who is from Wheaton, Ill., is one of six freshmen on this year’s Michigan women’s soccer team. Yesterday, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Heaton netted two goals including the game winner against Miami (Ohio).
This season has been a great one for Heaton, considering that she is only a freshman. She has participated in all 21 of Michigan’s games, starting in 18. As if that is not impressive enough, she is also second on the team with 22 points, including nine goals and four assists.
It is no wonder that Heaton was overjoyed with her success this year.
“It’s been everything I could have asked for and more,” she said. “Everybody dreams (about being a starter), I just go out there every day and work my hardest and hope the outcome is a positive thing.”
Heaton was a two-year letterwinner for Wheaton Warenville South High School. While playing there, she was a two-time all-state and all-sectional selection. She was also a unanimous All-DuPage Valley Conference selection as the captain of her high school team.
These awards helped catch the eye of Michigan coach Debbie Rademacher, who recruited Heaton to Ann Arbor. Heaton said that Michigan fit her desire as a place to play collegiate soccer as well.
“Academically, you could not ask for a better school with such high athletics as well,” Heaton said. “I came on my visit and got to spend time with the team and the coaches, and I just knew that these were the type of girls that I wanted to surround myself with for the next four years.”
Rademacher was quick to praise Heaton.
“Therese has come up big,” Rademacher said. “She can hold the ball, she’s strong. I expected a lot from her and actually she has exceeded my expectations.”
Heaton was also quick to point out that part of her success was due to her teammates and the impact that they have had on her.
“The girls are amazing,” Heaton said. “They make everyone feel so welcome. From the seniors to the freshmen, we all mesh so well together. We’re not separated by class. We’re one big team. The chemistry that we have off the field really helps on the field.”
The amazing part about Heaton is that she has three more years to get learn and get better. Next year Heaton will be a marked woman, but seeing as how she has already handled the marking by various defenses throughout this season, it would not be surprising if she continues to come out on top.