Erin got a hold of Alexandra (Ali) Stephens on Monday afternoon and they planned to meet Saturday morning prior to Concordia-Wisconsin’s game with Concordia-Chicago. Ali arrived on campus about 9:00 and Erin was waiting for her outside Augsburg.
Erin: You’re Ali, I take it.
Erin: Pleased to meet you. How was the trip up from Stallis?
Ali: It was pretty calm, since it’s early on a Saturday. I didn’t think you were from around here since your bio on the CUW website claims you’re from Michigan.
Erin: My uncle was born-and-raised in Milwaukee, so he’s taught me a lot of the lingo, like Stallis, bubbler, Tosa, OG, Tyme machine, KK, and The Valley.
Ali: Cool. I’ll have to meet him sometime.
Erin: So behind me is my dorm, Augsburg Hall. A lot of athletes live here, but they tend to get paired with non-athletes so they get a more general experience.
Ali: I’m going to be commuting.
Erin: One of my teammates does that. Works out OK for her, but I think you miss a little something doing that. That’s just me.
Erin starts taking Ali around campus, helping her to familiarize herself with the layout and where things are located.
Ali: Lindsey said that you played lacrosse when I talked to her on Tuesday.
Erin: Yes. I’m a defender, usually on the left side although sometimes I play in the center if our coach pulls one of our forwards back to better protect our goalkeeper. Your coach told me you were supposed to be going to UW-Milwaukee before your knee injury. Why did you decide to come here instead?
Ali: I originally wanted to come here, but my parents were being a bit difficult about it since I’m the baby of three and they paid for private school for the other two. They felt that since I had the talent to get some level of athletic scholarship, I should pursue that and keep my tuition bill down.
Ali: I turned 18 early in the school year, so I was apply here for admission without needing their signatures. Same went for the FAFSA and the Luther Promise scholarship.
Erin: I’m here on that. How do you qualify?
Ali: My father graduated from Concordia-New York before moving west and meeting my mom. This was another place where they were wrong. They thought that for me to be eligible for the Luther Promise, he had to have graduated from either here or Ann Arbor, but that criteria applies to any of the ten colleges in the Concordia system.
Erin: Smart cookie, you are. I can see that you’ll fit in around these parts rather well since you’re definitely industrious. What is your planned major?
Ali: Exercise Physiology. I thought about the Athletic Training program, but I didn’t want to spend five years in school.
Erin: One of our team’s incoming freshmen is an Athletic Training major. We also have a Phy Ed major on the team, a Human Biology major, and another incoming freshman doing Occupational Therapy. I’m sure you’ll probably cross paths with them in some of your courses, especially Jocelyn and Natalie since all three of your majors are housed in the same department.
Ali: What’s the dating life around here?
Erin: If you’re asking about the pickings at the school, I guess I’d call them no different than what you’d experience elsewhere. A lot of undercover nervous and shy types who never had to work up the courage to start something because they were always with the popular kids or the jocks or the pretty folk and people just flocked to them. If you want to find someone, you can, but you also have to come out of your shell a little to do so. Two of my teammates have been crushing on each other for more than a year and they STILL haven’t gotten together because neither one of them knows how to step forward and let the other one know they are interested. I’m a bit of a firebrand when it comes to those two, and so help me they WILL be with each other before school starts in August, even if I have to lock them in a closet and make them confess their feelings for each other like the US Women’s National Team tends to do when crushes start to form among the players.
Ali: Do you follow NWSL at all?
Erin: Not as much as Natalie or Shannon, the two teammates I mentioned, or my uncle Marc, who used to work in women’s soccer before starting his women’s coaching seminar. I’ll get weekly updates from him during the season, so I’m informed enough to carrying on a conversation with him or Natalie about what’s happening in the league.
Ali: I’ll have to pick your brains at some point. My parents got me tickets to the league final in Chicago in October. I hope the Red Stars make it.
Erin: They’re looking good from the West and they won the Hollywood Studios Cup in the preseason, but once Press goes back to LA, I’d expect them to be a serious challenger. As for the East, my girls are pumping hard for Boston because they made a lot of positive moves in the last year to shore up their defensive deficiencies and their 2017 rookie class is finally mature enough at the pro level to consistently score. Plus the Breakers have their mutual fangirl crush now.
Ali: You know your stuff.
Erin takes Ali to the dining hall, where they meet up with Heather for lunch. Afterwards, the two non-athletes walked over to Fitting Field and Erin went to the Athletic Center to suit up for the game against the Cougars.
Ali: How long have you and Erin been roommates?
Heather: Just this year. I roomed with my older sister my freshman year, then she moved off-campus.
Ali: Are the two of you planning to room together again next year?
Heather: That is a little up in the air. The two of us and our friend Natalie are trying to get a place off-campus, preferably the one my sister is in now, but one of her housemates hasn’t decided if she is moving or not. My mom has thought about buying the place outright, but I haven’t talked to her in a couple of weeks so I’m not sure what the status of that is.
Ali: Erin said dating around here can be a little tricky if you’re not that outgoing.
Heather: That’s somewhat true. Luckily, I met a guy back home who’s best friends with Erin’s boyfriend, so I’ve been able to avoid the pool here I guess.
Ali: Do non-athletes have a chance with the jocks around here? I was scheduled to play soccer at UW-Milwaukee until I blew my knee out again. The only guys I’ve dated have been athletes, so I really don’t know how to find a boyfriend in the general population.
Heather: It can happen, but they tend to stick among themselves. Your best bet is to pal up with an athlete, who then can introduce you to their circle in the athletic department.
Ali: I’m majoring in Exercise Physiology, so perhaps I’ll find other athletes in my classes.
Heather: Probably an easier way to accomplish that goal than snooping about Buuck looking for someone.
Warm-ups have concluded and the Falcons get off to an early 4-0 lead on their Windy City opponent. Kristen’s classmate Deanna Brodie, a member of the school’s cross-country team, has come to watch her play with her roommate, Miranda. After the game, they plan to work on a project for their English 104 course. Deanna looks down toward Heather and Ali and cracks a small smile at the sight of the diminutive incoming freshman, thinking that she looks pretty cute. Ali stretches her neck and looks back in the stands. She becomes mesmerized by Deanna’s hazel eyes, as though they were looking right through her. Ali blushes and looks away, then whispers to Heather, “Do you know who that girl above us is?”
Heather: Not really. I know she is friends with one of the freshmen on the team, but we haven’t been introduced.
Ali: She keeps looking over here, and for some reason I can’t keep from looking back.
Heather: Have you ever crushed on a girl before?
Ali: I don’t think so. I notice when girls are hot or whatever, but they don’t trigger anything in me that I’d call attraction.
Heather: Stick around after the game. Maybe we can figure out who she knows and perhaps get the two of you acquainted.
Ali: I don’t know. Maybe that’s not such a good idea. I wouldn’t know what to say to her.
Heather: You’re probably right. You’ll be a student here soon enough and have a better chance of getting to know her then.
The Falcons lead at halftime, 13-5. The second half is played more evenly between the two teams, with Concordia-Wisconsin winning 20-13 and finishing the conference season 6-2. They will travel to Lake Forest next weekend for the conference tournament, opening up on Friday against Aurora.
After the players have showered and changed, Erin, Natalie, and Shannon come out and meet up with Heather and Ali, while Kristen and Deanna walk back to Augsburg to work on their writing project. Ali still can’t take her eyes off of Deanna, admiring her sleek runner’s frame and remembering those piercing eyes of hers. Ali says goodbye to Erin and her teammates, then finds her car and drives home. Erin moves quickly to get back to Augsburg so she can change before her parents arrive to pick her up for Marc’s 50th birthday party at O’Donoghue’s in Elm Grove.