Player Interviews

RSL Women Sign Five BYU Players

Real Salt Lake Women are excited to announce the signing of five Brigham Young University players for their 2016 season. Here is a little more about the five signees. Michele Vasconcelos – Attacking Mid / Forward

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What is your favorite soccer Memory?

I really enjoyed being able to play soccer in Italy amidst all the touring/sight seeing we did.

What most excites you about playing for RSL Women?

I'm excited to play with a new team and be able to play in such a competitive atmosphere.

What is something we don't know about you?

One of my goals this summer is to work on my Portuguese and get better at speaking and understanding it.


 

Stephanie Ringwood – Defender

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What is your favorite soccer Memory?

Just being able to play at BYU and also experience Italy with my team.

What most excites you about playing for RSL Women?

Being able to play for a team and improve my soccer skills over the summer.

What is something we don't know about you?

I have to check my alarm after setting it at least 3 times before falling asleep because I'm paranoid it won't go off.


 

Elena Medeiros – Midfielder

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What is your favorite soccer Memory?

Playing for BYU and winning our 4th consecutive WCC Championship last fall. Also touring Italy with teammates and family!

What most excites you about playing for RSL Women?

I'm excited to play with old and new teammates and learn from new coaches. I'm also excited to represent a new club and compete.

What is something we don't know about you?

I love playing piano and organ. I also dislike pretty much all vegetables. I'm a Belieber.


Bizzy Phillips Bowen – Midfielder

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What is your favorite soccer Memory?

Being able to put on a BYU jersey for the first time my freshman year and playing all over the country and world with my team.

What most excites you about playing for RSL Women?

I'm really excited to play with RSL to get better, learn from new coaches, and work to start the professional women's program for future girls.

What is something we don't know about you?

If I could live in the mountains, I would. I love boating, skiing, and hiking. I make really good smoothies.


 

Madie Lyons – Forward

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What is your favorite soccer Memory?

My very first goal at BYU on my birthday against Oregon.

What most excites you about playing for RSL Women?

I am most excited to meet the players and playing with a new team will be exciting!

What is something we don't know about you?

If I could eat BBQ chicken pizza every day, I would!


 

Real Salt Lake Women are excited to have these ladies on the team this season and are looking forward to kicking off their first game on May 28. You can see the full schedule here.

 

Getting to Know RSL Women: Kendra Halterman

Kendra Halterman has been involved with professional women’s soccer in Utah over the last 8 years. She began her career in professional women’s soccer as one of the founders of the original WPSL Sparta Women’s Team (now Real Salt Lake Women) as well as playing a key role as a striker on the field. She has taken on different roles and assignments, from key administrative duties associated with RSL Women, to sitting on the Utah Soccer Association board of directors as vice president overseeing the Wasatch Women’s Soccer League, to coaching youth soccer, in an effort to keep the sport of women’s soccer progressive in Utah. Although she isn't able to play on the field for RSL women this year, her dedication and focus to the team remains unflinching. Kendra played here locally growing up and she is 34 years old @ShawnBlymiller: What is your role on the team?

Kendra Halterman: Well I actually do a lot but my title is the director of operations/registrar. I schedule home and away games, register the players on the team, book our travel, I represent the team at different meetings and conferences around the country and so much more.

SB: Describe yourself in 3 words?

KH: Athlete, Busy, Mom. I have 2 kids who are both soccer players. Cole is 10 and plays for La Roca, and Marley is 8 and plays for Forza. My husband's name is Rocky, and he is a rockstar. He has been my greatest supporter in helping me follow my dream to help establish a professional women's soccer team in Utah.

SB: Where did you grow up and what club did you play for?

KH: I grew up in Centerville. I played for several different youth clubs growing up, but in Junior high I joined a very talented club called Devastation coached by Rick Wood. We were seriously so good. We won several state titles, regional title and went on to play in Nationals. We were the team that everyone hated playing. ha ha I have great memories of that team.

SB: What inspired you to be a soccer player?

KH: I love everything about the game. I've always been around the soccer field and I played on my first team when I was 7 years old. But I must say it’s the adrenalin rush of scoring goals that always makes me wanting more.

SB: What is your favorite thing about being a part of RSL Women?

KH: My favorite part about playing for RSL Women is the girls! I really enjoy hanging out with some of the funniest, craziest, and talented players. I would do anything for them.

SB: What is your greatest soccer moment to date?

KH: Well I have 2. Is that okay? In 1998 I took State my senior year at Viewmont High School as a captain. I will never forget that feeling. My other greatest soccer moment was in 2012 when this team was actually called Salt Lake United. We won the Big Sky Conference, then won the Western Conference, and got to advance to participate in the Final Four Tournament played in Pensacola, Florida. Even though we didn’t win the national title, it was so awesome to see a team that struggled for many years grow into this amazing team.

SB: Goals for the season?

KH: Oh Geez! There are tons. But #1 is to have FUN! If your busting your tail you gotta make sure your laughing and having fun while you do it. Right! Another goal would be is to continue to bring the level of play higher. With all of the changes we are making this year, we are definitely going to be accomplishing that. I cant wait for the season to start. I also think its important we continue to provide a positive environment for our athletes.

SB: Advice for aspiring soccer players.

KH: Train hard, play hard. Be the player that always gives it their all, on and off the field. And Never give up on your dream!

SB: Who was your soccer idol growing up?

KH: Mia Hamm! Dang that girl was so good. I loved watching her play.

SB: Favorite game outside of soccer?

KH: Oh, there is another sport besides soccer? (Laughter) Just Kidding! I was a huge tomboy growing up. I loved playing all sports. But, I would have to say my next favorite would probably be basketball or softball.

SB: Worst subject at school?

KH: I would say English.

SB: What do you do in your downtime?

KH: Downtime? What’s that? I rarely ever get time alone. I’m always running around. (Laughter) But, when I have a few minutes to catch my breath, I enjoy movie nights and just laying around.

SB: What show can’t you miss?

KH: The Voice or The Bachelor/ Bachelorette.

SB: Who is your hero?

KH: My Dad is definitely my hero. He is pretty amazing! My Dad is my hero because he is the most special person in my life. He is my biggest fan on and off the field. He has been there for me through my ups and downs. My dad is without a doubt the strongest man I know. He is my family’s rock and guardian. My dad is the most genuine, hard working, unselfish, and spiritual leader with high human values, and morals you will ever meet. He has taught me that getting what you want in life means working for it and earning it. I know that his great example has influenced me to be the person I am today. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful Dad that is also my hero.

SB: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

KH: I would love to live in Playa Del Carmen Mexico.

SB: What is your favorite family vacation?

KH: Favorite vacation… that’s a hard one. We love to travel. I enjoy cruises, trips to Cancun or camping with my family.

SB: What motivates you to work hard?

KH: My family is my top priority and motivates me every day. I want to make sure they are taken care of. The other thing that motivates me is my team and the future for Women’s Soccer. I want nothing more than to see this sport to continue to grow and succeed, and I will do my part to make that happen.

SB: What is your proudest accomplishment?

KH: My proudest accomplishment would definitely have to be this team. It has been a fun, challenging and rewarding journey so far. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

SB: What makes you laugh the most?

KH: My kids! The stuff kids come up with and say cracks me up.

SB: What did you want to be when you were small?

KH: I wanted to be a nurse or doctor.

SB: If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?

KH: I would want to find the cure for cancer. We are losing way too many great people to this horrible disease. I lost my beautiful sister in law to this disease.

SB: What would you sing at Karaoke night?

KH: Ummmm something country.

SB: What two radio stations do you listen to in the car the most?

KH: My radio is usually on country, but I also like Pop/Hip Hop or R&B.

SB: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

KH: Sushi. Yummy!

Getting to know RSL Women Captain: Annie Hawkins

Today I have the privilege of getting to know captain Annie Hawkins a little better. Annie has a decorated resume playing part of the U.S. Women’s National Team pool, as well as playing professionally in Sweden in the Damallsvenskan League for QBIK. At Gonzaga University, Hawkins is second in school history for goals, assists, points, and shots. She was First Team All-West Coast Conference in 2003 and 2004. IMG_0981_2

Hawkins is a Salt Lake City native and prepped at Judge Memorial Catholic High School. She was a national honor society member with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.76. She grew up playing for the Utah Futbol Club.

@ShawnBlymiler: What is your first memory of playing soccer?

Annie Hawkins: In Cincinnati, Ohio my sister and I were 4 or 5, we had to play on a boys team. It was pretty fun.

@ShawnBlymiller: Why were you in Cincinnati?

Annie Hawkins: For my dad’s job, he was a children’s heart surgeon so we moved around a lot and lived in a couple different places.

@ShawnBlymiller: So when did you come to Utah?

Annie Hawkins: We were actually born here, and then we came back in between each place that we lived. So we lived in Utah, San Francisco, Utah, Cincinnati, and then back here. We ended up back here in 3rd grade.

@ShawnBlymiller: Tell us about your greatest soccer victory to date.

Annie Hawkins: That is tough. I think the most memorable one was when I played for the U.S. National B team and we won in Mexico. We played against the U-19 Mexican National Team, and we ended up winning 2-1. It was an amazing experience all around. It was crazy because the whole trip we had police escorts and mariachi bands would greet us when we got off the bus. It was such a cool trip.

@ShawnBlymiller: Tell us about the greatest goal you have ever scored.

Annie Hawkins: The goal that comes to mind is actually a goal I scored playing in the WPSL. It was to clinch a seat in the Final 4. I remember chest trapping it and then turning and volleying it out of the air to the upper 90 to win the game. One of those goals ya know, when you don’t even remember how you did it. (This was in 2012 when RSL Women took 1st place in the Big Sky Division. RSL Women ended up making it to the Semi Finals of Nationals.)

@ShawnBlymiller: Who is your favorite teammate?

Annie Hawkins: My twin sister for sure. She is so awesome. She always made me better in every way.

@ShawnBlymiller: Who is the best player you have ever played against?

Annie Hawkins: Kristine Lilly probably. I played pro soccer in Sweden and she was on a top team in our league, KIF Örebro DFF. She played for Pia Sundhage (Former National Team coach), who was coaching there at the time. Lilly was still so good. Marta played there too and she was breaking ankles all of the time.

@ShawnBlymiller: She still does that.

Annie Hawkins: Oh my gosh she is so good.

@ShawnBlymiller: Who did you look up to growing up?

Annie Hawkins: I followed Man U, so Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, Thierry Henry a little bit.

@ShawnBlymiller: Thierry Henry but a Man U fan?

Annie Hawkins: I know... (laughter) It doesn’t make sense but he was so fast and I was like, I want to be as fast as him.

@ShawnBlymiller: What is your greatest memory of playing with RSL Women?

Annie Hawkins: Probably when we went to the Final 4. We had the best team unity and we played for each other more than we ever had before. It ended up helping us succeed on the field. I think this is one of the reasons why we have that motto ‘Dedication to Each Other’. That moment is kind of where we sealed that. If you play for each other, you are going to end up winning more often than not.

@ShawnBlymiller: So tell us more about that mantra ‘Dedication to Each Other’

Annie Hawkins: We thought of it a couple of years ago. Erin Rodgers, who was captain with me, came up with a great design, and we print it on all our gear to remind us of our bigger goal. We are like a big family. We love each other. We want to make each other better. There are definitely people on the team that have made me a better player, and a better person. We try to live that every time we are on the field, and every time we are off the field too.

@ShawnBlymiller: Time to get a little goofy… Who is your favorite musical artist?

Annie Hawkins: Lauryn Hill or Talib Kweli.

@ShawnBlymiller: What is your dream car?

Annie Hawkins: I don’t know. I have a LandRover and I love it.

@ShawnBlymiller: Which Olympic sport other than soccer could you win a gold medal?

Annie Hawkins: Basketball, I played through high school.

@ShawnBlymiller: How do you rate your dancing abilities?

AH: I don’t even know if I have danced enough to know. Probably 0. (laughter)

@ShawnBlymiller: What were your best and worst subjects in school?

AH: Best is probably art or science. Worst is math or history.

@ShawnBlymiller: Have you ever had a nickname?

AH: Annie is kind of a nickname. My real name is Anne.

@Shawn Blymiller: Tell us something we don’t know about you.

AH: Most people don’t know that I am an identical twin.

@ShawnBlymiller: Why do you think it is important for people to follow Real Salt Lake Women?

AH: I think it is proof for young girls that you can live your dream. Growing up I didn’t really have that. I mean I kind of did with watching Mia Hamm. But it was never someone in your city, in your state, that you could maybe run into at the grocery store, or see them actually play a game. I think that is so important for the girls to actually see it, because when you have a real life mentor or role model that you can watch you believe that you can do it too.

@ShawnBlymiller: It is pretty significant that you played on the same field as Marta and Kristine Lilly.

AH: (Humble grin and shades of red on her face) I am just blessed.

Well believe it girls and boys. You learned it yourself from a Utah native. You can live your dream and play the sport you love. Make sure to come watch Annie Hawkins and the rest of the RSL Women put the mantra “Dedication to One Another” to work in front of your own eyes. Check out their schedule here shortly.

*Further information for those new soccer fans: (Kristine Lilly was just inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame on Saturday 02/14/2015. Her career included 352 caps for the U.S. National Team, 130 goals, played in 5 Women’s World Cup’s, won 2 World Cups and 2 Gold Medals) (Check out Kristine Lilly’s own personal website at http://kristinelilly13.com/) (Marta was named FIFA World Player of the Year five consecutive times between 2006-2010 as a key figure for the Brazilian National Team.)-- Yes, Annie played against some big names.

You can follow Shawn on Twitter

You can follow Annie on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Getting to know RSL Women: Sara Cowley

Real Salt Lake doesn't just have a new USL Pro team; it has a women’s team, too. They compete in the WPSL Elite, one step below the top-flight National Women’s Soccer League — where you will see U.S. Women’s National team stars like Hope Solo and Alex Morgan. If we were to draw a direct comparison of the WPSL with the men’s side, it would be similar to USL Pro. The WPSL Elite is made up of 12 teams in two conferences, each playing likely 10 home games this season. The women sacrifice a lot to play soccer at the highest-possible level. Every month, @ShawnBlymiller (aka SoccerGeek) will sit down with one of these women to give you a chance to know them. This is first in that series of interviews, where I got to know team administrator Sara Cowley, a former player who gives us a better idea of the organization.

Sara played a total of 60 games with 4 goals and 8 assists. The team has gone through a number of name changes from Sparta United, SL United, and now Real Salt Lake Women

@ShawnBlymiller: What does the community need to know about RSL Women? Why should they watch Real Salt Lake Women and become a supporter?

Sara Cowley: The members of Real Salt Lake Women come from all walks of life: women who are all pursuing careers, going to school, raising kids, preparing for college, currently playing collegiate soccer and more. What they all share is a deep passion and love for the game of soccer, a determination to continue to learn and improve within the game as individuals and as a team. When we come together as a team our mantra is 'Dedication to each other.' Together, as coaches and players we are all dedicated to raising the bar and working hard to establish high-level women’s soccer here in Utah, and all over the nation. If you enjoy sports and watching elite athletes perform at the highest level who display tons of heart and passion, you will love watching the RSL Women.

@ShawnBlymiller: To the soccer snobs that love everything to do with soccer, those people that know the game well, what does RSL Women add that makes it important for them to be a supporter?

SC: Soccer is known as the beautiful game, and players of all ages, young or old, try to accomplish playing just that, playing the game as it was meant to be played — lots of control, passing, creativity, and finishing. The women bring to the table a very high level of fitness and athleticism. There is unity and high level of teamwork in the way the women play, that I feel is pretty special and unique in the world of soccer. I think we have converted a few fans over the years and we are hoping to convert a lot more.

@ShawnBlymiller: What is your role on the team on the field and off?

SC: Early on as a player, I would contribute in the midfield and defense, on the field. Off the field, I did the administrative duties — basically whatever had to be done so we could get out on the field and play each game, things like registration, finding sponsors, arranging travel, etc.

My role has evolved over the last eight years, largely due to the addition of two more kids: not as much playing and more managerial work. But I have really enjoyed seeing the game from a different perspective, the 'business' side of the game. However, I do still love to get out on the field and play whenever I get a chance.

@ShawnBlymiller: Get a few nutmegs in on the girls?

SC: Yeah (laughter), well, these guys are all pretty good now.

@ShawnBlymiller: So tell me a little more about the administrative roles. What does that look like? In order for the finances to make sense, what do you have to do?

SC: As an athlete growing up playing sports, I had no idea all that went into organizing and managing teams. It’s a lot of paperwork, communicating with ref coordinators, completing players' registration, securing fields to play on, and, of course, managing the finances. Players and coaches have worked hard over the years to help secure funding for the team — it costs quite a bit to travel all over the United States to play games. Budgeting is very important so we make sure all the costs and fees are covered, while keeping a little in the bank for the end of year trips to the playoffs and championship. It’s been a great experience, getting hands-on experience of all that goes on behind the scenes.

@ShawnBlymiller: What is a funny and interesting thing about one of the members of Real Salt Lake Women?

SC: Each member of the team has their own unique and interesting life story. I wish you could get to know all of them. There are players that have funny pre-game rituals — one, for example, has to have an unchewed piece of gum under her shin guard every game, which I find kind of funny. Also, we had a player audition for American Idol a few years ago; she sang the National Anthem at a few of our games. We have lots of amazingly talented women.

A very inspirational player we have is Lexe Selman. She battled for her life when doctors diagnosed her with leukemia as a senior in high school. She courageously beat it, and is now playing college soccer (at Arizona) and will be with the RSL Women in the summer. What amazing women we have on this team!

@ShawnBlymiller: Who is the funniest on the team?

SC: That’s a hard one; we have lots of fun when we are all together. Tasha Aiono, or “Tushy” is always having a good time — she choreographs music videos on our road trips. She’s always making us laugh.

@ShawnBlymiller: What is your favorite memory so far of your time with RSL Women?

SC: To name one is difficult. Other than the amazing friendships I have made with coaches and teammates over the years, the one that sticks out was the 2012 season. We won our conference and earned a spot in the regional tournament. We were up against two WPSL powerhouses, the San Diego SeaLions and the California Storm. We traveled to California and were huge underdogs. The team pulled together and played absolutely inspired. We ended up beating both teams and bringing home the trophy of Western Conference champs, earning a spot in the Final Four tournament in Florida. It was a blast and I will never forget how awesome it was to run off that field to get to the airport (for a flight we missed, by the way), and leaving all the fans and players stunned by what had just happened.

@ShawnBlymiller: Where do you see the RSL women and yourself in two years?

SC: In two years, we hope to be one of the new teams joining the National Women’s Soccer League. That is our goal, and has been since we started this team. We have had some amazing support recently and now that we are part of the RSL family, we know we can accomplish this goal. A lot of work is yet to be done to get there, but we are ready. And for me personally, I will probably still be doing what I do now — and that is whatever needs to be done to make sure we can get out on that field and play. And by “We” I mean any and all women who have a desire to play soccer on all levels. I would also love to continue learning the game as a coach; I have loved all my experiences coaching the past 10 years (at Jordan High School, Brighton High School and in the Olympic Development Program), and really helping youth players develop in the game and accomplish their goals in soccer. There are lots of exciting things to look forward to in the next 2 years.

I respect trailblazers like Sara that allow others to reap the benefits of her work. If people were not willing to do that work before us, the great game might not be as big as it is in our country right now. Thank you on behalf of the future women’s soccer stars coming out of Real Salt Lake Women.