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ND Women’s Soccer

Olmsted emulates former captain in leadership role

| Thursday, September 1, 2016

Three years ago, Kaleigh Olmsted arrived at Notre Dame as a freshman from The Woodlands, Texas, ready to help in any way she could. Now a senior, she plays a huge role both as a scorer and a leader for the No. 23 Irish.

She played in 61 games over her first three years with Notre Dame, starting in 44 games. She’s increased her production on attack every year, scoring two goals as a freshman, three as a sophomore and four last year. Could she have envisioned things going the way they have?

Irish senior forward Kaleigh Olmsted passes the ball to a teammate in Notre Dame’s 1-0 win over Wisconsin on Aug. 21 at Alumni Stadium.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish senior forward Kaleigh Olmsted passes the ball to a teammate in Notre Dame’s 1-0 win over Wisconsin on Aug. 21 at Alumni Stadium.

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“No, I definitely did not,” Olmsted said. “I wouldn’t say I’m a very pessimistic person, but going into freshman year I didn’t see myself getting any playing time that first year and just thought I would try to get into some minutes sophomore year and work with what I had. But I couldn’t have envisioned things going as they have up to today.”

Olmsted said one major influence on her development as a player was class of 2015 graduate Elizabeth Tucker, who was a captain in Olmsted’s first year with the team.

“I’m sure a lot of seniors would feel this same way, but Liz Tucker was a really big influence on a lot of us,” Olmsted said. “She was a great leader, a great captain and above all a great teammate. She put the team above herself in every situation and she was always there if you needed to talk to someone.”

Drawing from experiences in her personal life, Olmsted said she learned what mindset to have on and off the field from her uncle, a Navy Seal.

“My Uncle Thomas has also been a huge inspiration to me,” Olmsted said. “He has tried his hand in a million different crafts and always seems to be amazing at what he does. He is incredibly persevering and I’ve always thought about him when things get tough because nothing gets tougher than being a Navy Seal.”

As one of the most experienced members of the current squad, Olmsted will be trying to fill the same leadership role for the five freshmen newcomers in 2016 that Tucker did for her in 2013. She said she realizes she has a job to do this season that goes beyond her performance on the field.

“This year, our motto is ‘fight for 29,’ which is a team effort to get everyone fighting for the person next to you,” Olmsted said. “We’ve been focusing on this as we start off the season so far and I think ultimately we’re going to get the best out of people when they know they are playing for others, so that’s the mentality we hope to keep moving forward.”

That team mentality and camaraderie has been present from day one this season, Olmsted said.

“Just this preseason we had a team tournament of games where we all dressed up in costumes and got assigned a partner,” she said. “It was a great team bonding experience and we had a ton of fun, plus it was great for getting people out of their shells right at the start of the season.”

With the fun and games behind the Irish (3-1-0) as the season gets underway, Olmsted said she has high hopes for the season, but that it will come down to desire.

“I really feel that we can take this season as far as we want to take it,” Olmsted said. “It comes down to that mentality of not just fighting for yourself but fighting for the rest of the team as well. When it comes to our goals for the season, a word that keeps coming up is fight, and while there are a variety of goals that are specific to each and every position on the team, we have collective goals, highest among those being to fight for each other.”

 

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