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Sept. 18, 2012

Senior Phoebe Willis scored the first goal of her collegiate career Saturday against Miami (Ohio). We sat down with Willis after a team training session to talk about her goal and her goals and plans for after graduation.

How did you feel after scoring your first career goal as a senior?
I played defense my first two years of college. I also broke my foot in five places last season, so that is worth noting. It’s fun being out there, I actually love playing attack. I never thought I would. But it was really Paige’s shot. The goalie kind of tipped it up into the air, and I saw a defender out of the corner of my eye and I just thought, “I have to finish this.” We’ve been working on finishing all week at practice. I talked to Paige afterwards to tell her I didn’t mean to steal her goal, but she was very gracious about it and really excited for me. It was a good team effort.

What was going through your head when you knocked the goal in?
I was pretty ecstatic. Having a broken foot last year, I came out this season with the attitude that I was going to appreciate every day I stepped on that field. If all I got to do for the game was warm up with my teammates, I was just going to be thrilled about that and be a team player truly, and be excited for them. This season has been so rewarding for me. Not only getting to play, but Michelle has started me in a couple games and I’m overwhelmed with the way the season is playing out. Not only personally for me, but we’ve been winning a lot of games, we had a couple we should have one, and we are just on the up-and-up. Scoring a goal is just the icing on the cake.

What did you focus on to prepare for the season?
I had to get in shape. I had not run for nine months. I started doing CrossFit at the beginning of the summer, which is an extreme, high-intensity short workout. So I got into physical shape first. Then I really just worked on having fun, and getting back to the basics of why I started playing field hockey as a kid. I went out and played pick-up four nights a week with the Richmond VCU girls since I was living in Richmond this summer. Being able to play with them, I didn’t care what any of them thought of me. I knew I knew how to play field hockey, and I would just work on little things that I may have been nervous to try around my Olympics-bound teammates. I was really getting back to loving hockey. I have to credit my friends in Richmond for helping get back to having fun playing hockey and I think that’s what I’ve brought back with me.

What do you all need to do to be prepared for ACC play on the road this week?
Coach Madison said it in her last interview after Miami of Ohio, but we tend to do the simple really well, and we almost do it so well that we start to over-complicate. So we’ve worked a lot on the obvious, taking the simple, early pass on the obvious plays first, really working the ball up the field and sticking with our game plan. I think our system works well and if we stick with it, and are relentless, we can take on any team in the country.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I’m in the midst of not only being in-season and having a full course load for the first time, but I’m also in the middle of the interview process for Teach for America and I am applying to law school as well. UVa law is my top choice. I am going to do an early binding decision there. I hope to be accepted shortly.
I am a sixth generation Cavalier undergrad. I would be a fifth generation UVa law school student. My great-great grandfather, my great grandfather, my grandfather and my father all went to UVa law.

What got you interested in Teach for America?
I chose to come play field hockey at UVa because I was looking for a challenge and something that was not only going to challenge me physically, but also academically and mentally. It was one of the hardest choices I have made in my life, but also the most rewarding. I had an internship this summer. Coming back to school after three months of no school at all really made me appreciate the experience in the classroom, everything that I was learning, and what a benefit it was to me. I think that taking a couple of years off, getting some real-world experience, and having to pay all of my own bills with my own money would be very beneficial to me and make me appreciate law school.

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