It’s not every day that the University of Wisconsin-Madison has an athlete good enough to play at the highest of stages.
Wisconsin women’s soccer junior midfielder Rose Lavelle, who was called up to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team in November 2015, has certainly obtained a number of awards and achievements throughout her career as a soccer player.
Lavelle was a four-year varsity women’s soccer player in high school and was named Cincinnati’s Player of the Year her senior year. Lavelle scored an impressive 15 goals and racked up 38 points for her team. By the end of her senior year, Rose totaled 57 goals. Rose was then rewarded NSCAA All-Region her junior and senior year of high school, including First-Team All-State honors, along with being rewarded the Greater Cincinnati/Kentucky Sports Women of the Year award in 2013.
However, Lavelle’s answer to her proudest accomplishment may surprise you.
“One of my biggest accomplishments is my dog’s rise to fame,” Lavelle joked. “This sounds really stupid, but I’m so prideful about that because I love her so much and I’m so happy for her.”
I guess being a member of the National Team has its perks, such as being able to make your dog Twitter famous. What more could you ask for?
Besides her dog’s newly found stardom, Lavelle doesn’t get too wrapped up in awards.
“I try not to get too caught up with individual awards,” Lavelle said. “My coach, Paula [Wilkins], always says that individual awards are a good reflection of our team, because if our team isn’t doing well, then players aren’t going to get recognized.”
It seems as if Rose could have played collegiate soccer anywhere she wanted to due to her list of high school successes. So, why did Lavelle choose Wisconsin? The better question would probably be: Why wouldn’t she choose Wisconsin?
“I visited a lot of schools before choosing Wisconsin,” Lavelle explained. “I had known Paula because she had coached me previously. We went on an international trip to Poland and I really like her, both as a person and a coach.”
“When I first visited Madison, I loved everything about it. I loved how it was a huge sports school; I’m a big sports fan. I remember walking on State Street at night and that was the moment I realized that I wanted to go here. Madison has such an amazing atmosphere and it’s such a cool place to be at. So, I guess what drew me here was Paula, but once you get on campus it’s hard not to fall in love with it.”
As much as Lavelle may admire Wisconsin, she refuses to stray from the team she’s been an avid fan for all of her life: Xavier.
“Xavier is a team that I’ve been a fan of for as long as I can remember. I just could not find it in my heart to root against them,” Lavelle said. “It’s sad, I promise I’m still a Badger fan, but for the Wisconsin-Xavier game, I had to cheer for Xavier.”
It was definitely tough for Lavelle when #2 Xavier faced #7 Wisconsin during the second round of March Madness. It was probably even harder for her when Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig splashed a three-pointer at the buzzer to clinch the upset over her beloved Musketeers.
“I was honestly heartbroken,” Lavelle said, “I was completely devastated when Bronson hit that shot; but once my sadness wore off and the Badgers were playing their next game, I was rooting for them.”
It’s entirely possible that Lavelle tried to shake off the post-Xavier loss with her typical pre-game ritual, which she claims always lessens her stress.
“I really like to dance before games,” Lavelle explained. “Whatever team I’m on, I always try to get the locker room going and dancing.”
“I always try to get loose and not stress about the game because it’s something that should be fun for me rather than stress me out. It helps calm me down.”
That loose mentality and selflessness on and off the field has taken Lavelle far. Ranked as one of the top players in the country, Lavelle reached the apex of women’s soccer. Lavelle was only one of two college players called up to play for the USWNT in 2015, accompanied with University of Virginia defender Emily Sonnett.
“Even when I was growing up, I always envisioned myself being on the National Team,” Lavelle said. “Being a part of the National Team was always my biggest dream,” she continued. It’s crazy that it’s turned out the way it has and that my dream is actually becoming a reality.”
That dream sure is becoming reality, as Lavelle will graduate from Wisconsin next year and hope to play professionally for the USWNT and in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) for as long as her body lets her.
And maybe even her dog will get to come along for the ride to the 2019 World Cup in France.
Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Magazine.