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ECU women's soccer goalie Christiane Cordero

ECU goalie succeeds as student-athlete

By Justin Boulmay      Photography by Jay Clark and Cliff Hollis

On her blog, Christiane Cordero committed herself to accomplishing 100 new things this year, a list that ranges from eating cake for dinner to feeding a homeless person. This fall she started what can be described as her 101st goal: Succeeding in her last year as a student-athlete playing on a nonrevenue sports team.

Cordero is the starting goalie on the ECU women's soccer team. A senior, she's also an aspiring broadcast journalist. She is one of about 205 ECU student-athletes who play on Olympic Sports teams—like soccer, tennis, volleyball, track and field—who seldom receive the public attention showered on revenue sports like football.

Yet their days are just as hectic and their work is just as hard. They juggle classwork commitments with travel for away games and trade leisure time for relentless workouts and focused hours of study.

"There is no difference between the work ethic and training of Olympic Sport athletes versus the work ethic and training of revenue sport athletes," says Athletics Director Terry Holland.

Cordero's work has paid off, in the classroom and on the field. Cordero, who has a 3.34 GPA, earned a spot on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll and the ECU Director of Athletics Honor Roll. She recorded 81 saves on 191 shots in 2011 and was named to C-USA's All-Tournament Team. This season, she was twice named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week and Women's National Player of the Week by Soccer News Net. Cordero recorded 11 saves during the two games, helping lead her the Pirates to victory against both opponents.

East wanted to learn what life is like for these students. With her permission and the agreement of the Department of Athletics, we spent some time in August shadowing Cordero so we could share her story.


This article will be featured in the Winter 2013 edition of East magazine, available Nov. 15.

   12:30 p.m.
Broadcast journalism class
Joyner East, 12:30 p.m.

When Cordero arrives at her first class of the day—television editing and producing—assistant professor Mary Tucker-McLaughlin teases her for being followed by "paparazzi."


"It's always a good feeling knowing
you're part of something much bigger
than yourself."

  As the class starts, Tucker-McLaughlin informs students they will be producing their own news broadcasts.

They will work with students from another class to develop the stories, she says. They also will design their own station logos and create other video in the studio next door—a black-walled room equipped with a green screen, an anchor desk, a TriCaster video editing system and two cameras.

This is familiar work to Cordero, who spent most of the summer working as an intern at CNN in Atlanta for Kyra Phillips, the anchor for the 11 a.m. broadcast. There, she was on a production staff that drafted content and scripts. It was a summer with plenty of opportunities to learn under fire. The news was dominated by the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act and when a gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58 at a theater in Aurora, Colo.

"That's not something you look forward to," she says of the shootings. "At the same time, you learn a lot from it."
Cordero, second from left, enjoys a communication class at ECU.

Cordero says some people think reporters are calloused toward the victims in the stories they cover, but that isn't true.

"I would be in the control room and you would see all the different live feeds from the reporters in Aurora, and right before the live shot, they're cleaning their faces because they're tearing up."

Cordero maintains a blog titled "All the Little Things." Her posts vary from serious musings to chuckle-inducing tidbits about her day. One of her recent tweets reads: "A good book and some heavy rain. Not bad, Monday. Not bad."

Other posts are more serious, such as one in which Cordero writes about a gift the CNN anchor gave her on her last day in Atlanta: an Iraqi National Soccer Team jersey. Phillips was given the jersey while covering the war in Iraq. Knowing her intern's love for soccer, Phillips passed the jersey on to Cordero.

"Not only was it an extremely symbolic present with so much sentimental value, but it helped me realize that soccer will always be part of me," Cordero wrote in a blog entry. "It helped me realize how fervently grateful I am that I started playing, if only for the role that it plays—and always will play—in my life.

"I joined a team way back in the day because it was fun and all my friends were doing it, but it's become so much more profound than that. It's been dynamic, turning from a social extracurricular (activity), to a potential way to fund school to the thing I hate doing (at 6 a.m.), to the foundation of everything noteworthy I've ever accomplished in my life so far."

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