Head Coach Hillary Arthur is in her 12th year as head coach of Willamette’s women’s soccer team. Under her direction, the team has placed third in the Northwest Conference (NWC) four times, and in 2011, Arthur was named NWC Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year. Arthur has led the women’s soccer team to an outstanding season. Currently, the team’s record stands at 9-5-1 overall and 8-2-1 in the NWC.
Arthur commented on what she attributes this success to: “They are a very hardworking team and are very committed to each other. You can see their will to improve every day. They’re always wanting more information, more drills, etc. That hunger and drive are so important, especially in the second half of the conference.”
The soccer team has had many mottos and team mantras in its long history of success. These team mottos are turned into hashtags, each meant to serve as a reminder of what excellence looks like. This year, the hashtag is #ICEU, which stands for inclusion, community, excellence and united. This conveniently sounds like ‘I see you,’ which adds another level of recognition of inclusion on the team.
Arthur said, “Celebrating and embracing everyone is very important to our program.”
Besides coaching soccer, Arthur also serves on the Trans Advocacy Committee and has encouraged her team to be involved with many of the Willamette-affiliated culture-building events and activities. Hannah Deighton, a senior on the team, helped with the team’s involvement with the Center For Hope and Safety, an organization that provides resources for victims of domestic violence. The team also volunteered for a 5K run to help advocate and raise money for victims of domestic violence and began playing domestic violence awareness games. Additionally, the team participated in “Play With Pride,” a United Soccer Coaches initiative that gives players the chance to wear rainbow laces and cuffs during their games to support people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Arthur said that the team’s success comes from player’s cohesion and respect for one another. At the beginning of every season, Arthur runs team-building activities and implements a mentor-mentee program to create bonds over the summer. The week before classes start, the team goes on a camping trip to bond in a comfortable and relaxed environment. These initiatives are just some of the ways Arthur helps to encourage teamwork on and off the field. Last weekend brought new challenges for WU’s women’s soccer team. The team had a game on Oct. 26 in which they competed against Pacific University on Pacific’s home field, and a game on Oct. 27 against Puget Sound on Puget’s home field, who they previously tied. The team beat Pacific 1-0 and, similar to Sep. 29’s 0-0 tie, tied Puget Sound 1-1 on Sunday, Oct. 27.
Arthur was confident in her team’s preparation for these matchups. A brief look into the team’s training agenda shows both the team’s and Arthur’s commitment to improving every day. On Tuesdays, the team watches film and learns from the team’s past games. Then the team lifts and stretches. The rest of the week is devoted to training on the field, focusing on technical skills and plays the team needs to improve on in preparation for the next game.
Arthur does her research for upcoming games: “[Pacific] is either going to play on their football field or their east field. The east field is a little more narrow and the grass is a little bit longer. That field has a slight home-field advantage, but our team has prepared to play on any surface.”
The women’s soccer team has some traditions, like tapping the same side of the lockers on their way out to the field and the big team talk they have before the game to get pumped up and energized. “I try to not be superstitious or get caught in all of that… We prepare well and that’s what we need to do,” Arthur said.
Arthur said it’s easy for the WU community to help the women’s soccer team—cheer the team on at their next game. According to Arthur, you will not be disappointed. “This team continues to improve, continues to work hard and continues to excel and their commitment to excellence, I see it every day. It inspires and motivates me to do better. As a coach, what more could you ask for?”