UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 17, 2024

Athletes of the month lead by example

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Leadership, a sense of humor, and hard work ethic are just a few of the impressive attributes that have caught the attention of many over the last four years.

When it came to choosing the athlete of the month, Linda Huddleston, head coach of the Dixie State College women’s soccer team, couldn’t choose just one.

Elaborating on incredible work ethic and a quiet confidence exhibited by both players on and off the field, Huddleston makes it clear that seniors defender Kelsey Tesoro and goal keeper Abby Johnson are two of the best the team has to offer. Tesoro and Johnson are forces to be reckoned with and key components to the success of the team.

“When they were freshmen we were conference champions,” Huddleston said. “They know what it takes to win.”

Tesoro and Johnson have been playing together for the last four years of their college careers, and they’ve got the skills to prove it.

Tesoro and Johnson are described as leaders who get the job done and encourage teammates to play their best — not with words but with example.

“If you are an excellent player and you say something to the other players, if you are that quality of player, they are going to respect that and listen to it,” Huddleston said. “Otherwise, who are you to say that? But when you can back it up with your play—they’re going to listen.”

Not only has Huddleston noticed Tesoro and Johnson’s lead-by-example mantra, but fellow teammates of theirs have also noticed as well.

 “[Tesoro’s] the oldest so she has experience and is the one person I look up to back up there,” defender Emily Fox said. “She’s very [skilled]. She can see the field really well and always talks to us. She just knows what she’s doing.” 

However, her skills extend beyond that of soccer cleats and shin guards. Tesoro is described by assistant coach, Lauren Minnick, as tech savvy, and she says she has saved the team from multiple silent bus rides due to her ability to figure out the tricky stereo system.

With Tesoro, it’s not always game time. It seems she finds ways of her own to keep coaches and team members on their toes off the field. 

“She likes to play jokes¸ but she’s very subtle about it. You never see it coming,” Minnick said.

Though Huddleston may have to watch her back every now and then, due to the practical jokes lurking on and off the field, she appreciates the good sense of humor that both Tesoro and Johnson bring to the team and the camaraderie they experience because of it.

While Tesoro keeps a watchful eye on the field and communicates with her team from behind, a soccer game can only be won by the amount of goals made—or lack thereof.

And Johnson makes sure the scoreboard is always in their favor.

“We’ve had a lot of really good goalkeepers come through here, but Abby has made some of the most amazing saves I’ve ever seen any goalkeeper make,” Huddleston said. 

With her quirky stutter-steps that Huddleston has often times observed, Johnson is quick to shut the other team down.

Although Johnson has the skill to show it loud and proud, Fox said she is more of a silent leader.

“Abby always knows what she’s doing and what we need to be doing in the back,” Fox said. “She’s always talking to us and being very leadership oriented. She’s always kind, she never puts us down and she’s very uplifting.”

As far as Huddleston has observed, Tesoro and Johnson don’t participate in any intense warm-up rituals including heavy metal or “Eye of The Tiger” like some may assume. Elaborate pre-game rituals aren’t quite their style. They simply focus and play the game at hand.

“I don’t know if I recruit girls like this, or if it just happens, but these girls are pretty mellow,” Huddleston said. “This team is not real in-your-face; they just get in the zone.” 

With two girls like Tesoro and Johnson leading the women’s soccer team this year, it’s hard to predict an outcome less than remarkable. The two girls are described as amazing, skilled, fun, humorous, and full of heart. Huddleston and team are perhaps in for the season of their careers.

They know what it takes to win.