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NO SPOTLIGHT, JUST SACRIFICE
"...it’s given me a sense of community since I always have a group of teammates to turn to whenever I need help with anything.” -- Cordero
ECU Soccer Stadium, 2:30 p.m.
After taking the student transit bus from Main Campus to get her car, Cordero drives to the soccer field at the Olympic Sports Complex on Charles Boulevard. She has about an hour before practice begins, so Cordero pays a visit to the sports medical staff.
She has a bursa sac on her hip, which the medical staff is treating with ultrasound to heat the tissue and relieve the swelling. After the ultrasound, Cordero changes into her practice uniform: a gray shirt, black shorts, padded gloves and shin guards.
At a few minutes before 3 o’clock, Cordero and two teammates walk out to the field so the two players can take practice shots on Cordero in goal. They grab several soccer balls and begin an unofficial pre-practice drill before the official team practice.
Helping out her teammates before practice is a sign of leadership, says Hali Oughton, a midfielder who, like Cordero, is a broadcast journalism major.
“She knows the game very well and takes the game seriously,” says Oughton, who is also Cordero’s roommate. “She pushes people around her to bring the most out of their game and holds people to the highest standard.”
Cordero had never touched a soccer ball growing up in Valencia, Calif., until she got one as a present for her 12th birthday. She was hooked. At 13, she joined her first competitive soccer team. “It turned out to be a pretty good present,” she says.
Christiane Cordero is shown during practice.
Cordero didn't want to attend college on the West Coast. Hoping for a spot on a Division I team and a scholarship, she mailed a video of her playing highlights to several East Coast schools. Rob Donnenwirth, the ECU women's head soccer coach, watched the video and was impressed.
Donnenwirth offered Cordero a spot on the team, but told her she wouldn’t be a starter her freshman year. He also told her the team also had given out all the scholarships it could. Cordero accepted anyway.
During her sophomore year, she got her chance to start with the team. Donnenwirth noticed the improvement. “She took that spot and never let it go,” he says.
She and her teammates spend 12 to 15 hours a week practicing for games that last 90 minutes. For away games, the team will leave for Raleigh-Durham International Airport on late Thursday and return to Greenville around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. The girls usually take that time to study and do homework.
All of her effort also translates into other aspects of her life. Cordero says she’s gained perspective as she’s gotten older and developed confidence as an athlete and as a person.
“There are so many things that you learn from the game that are applicable to other areas of life, and it’s always a good feeling knowing you’re part of something much bigger than yourself,” she says.
“Plus, it’s given me a sense of community since I always have a group of teammates to turn to whenever I need help with anything.”
Cordero plays a position in which misses are very visible. “If a goalkeeper makes a mistake, it’s going to be noticed,” Donnenwirth says.
On the field, during the day’s practice, the kicks start easy but get faster and harder as time goes by. It’s noticeable how many saves Cordero makes. At one point, she leaps to snare a speeding ball in mid-air and lands so hard the impact can be heard from the sidelines.
“Start deeper, though, farther out,” Cordero yells to a teammate who is setting up a kick to her left. The player passes the ball to a teammate, who sends a kick just past Cordero.
“Good job,” the goalkeeper shouts as she gets ready for the next one.
At another point, one of the players kicks the ball and it hits the left post and rolls back just enough to cross the goal line. “I hope you got a picture of that one,” Cordero shouts to a photographer standing nearby.