Sept. 6, 2000
Tallahasssee, FL –
Goalkeeper Sarah Crawford is a leader for the Florida State Seminole soccer team and it’s not just because her position demands that of her. Despite transferring to FSU from Georgia State, this senior has earned her teammates respect in a little over a year and now is a co-captain of the 2000 squad.
Sarah started playing soccer when she was four and took up the game for the same reason many kids do anything when they are that young.
“My mom loves to tell the story of how I got started playing,” Sarah says with a smile. “My sister, who was three years older than me, brought home a flyer for a soccer league at school and of course I wanted to do exactly what my big sister did.”
Sarah was too young to join a league at that point so she tagged along with her dad, who was coaching her sister’s team, until she was old enough to play on her own. Although she started practicing and playing with her own age group a few years later, Sarah still went to every one of her sister’s practices and ended up going to two practices everyday for as long as she can remember.
Although she started out playing in the field, it wasn’t long before Sarah found herself in the goal. One day she just found the draw of the goal irresistible.
“The first time I ever wanted to play goalie was because our goalkeeper stunk and the balls kept going in the back of the net,” Sarah said. “I knew I could do so much better than that. It was tearing me up because I wanted to play in the field but I also had a need to be in the goal.”
The need to be in the goal is a unique calling and many people feel that goalkeepers are inherently “different”. Anyone who has spent time on a soccer field usually has a story or two about the goalie.
“People always say that every goalie they’ve met is a little different,” Sarah says with a little bit of a grin. “Some goalies are totally whacked and I think you have to be different to play back there since you’re constantly getting balls shot right at you.”
Being a keeper is exhilarating according to Sarah and she says that it’s the only position she would want to play except for the occasional yearning to be a striker. You can’t blame her for wanting to experience how the other half lives every now and again.
The decision to transfer to FSU was a difficult one for Sarah. She was living in Atlanta, playing for a team that had won their conference championship and was close to her family and friends. Although she was excited about the change, Sarah definitely had some anxious moments when she finally decided to come to Tallahassee.
“It was hard when I first came to FSU,” Sarah recalls. “I remember driving down here last year and I remember crying the whole way down. All I had was two bags in my car and I was going to be living out of those bags for the next two weeks. I wasn’t going to be seeing my family as much and I was really upset. I was nervous about everything.”
There were so many differences between the two schools and Sarah only knew one person in Tallahassee. She had no idea what to expect when she arrived. Georgia State was in the middle of Atlanta so Florida State was the first real campus she had experienced.
“At Georgia State we had to drive 20 minutes to get to our field and we didn’t have locker rooms, we didn’t have practice uniforms and we only had one trainer,” Sarah remembers. “Coming from there to a place where we get all of those things and our laundry done for us after practice was amazing. I still get excited over the fact that we don’t have to wash our own uniforms. Florida State treats their athletes so well. Nobody has the right to complain about the way this university treats its athletes. We are completely pampered.”
Sarah also worried about starting over and having to make new friends and being accepted by her new teammates. This is important to everyone but was even more vital for a goalie that is expected to lead her team.
“I think I have the type of personality that makes people feel comfortable with me,” Sarah said shyly. “I felt that I would be able to make friends but I didn’t know how soon. I was really worried about finding the people I was going to be hanging around with. You always want one person that is close by that you can talk to and I came here not knowing when I would find that person.”
All of Sarah’s fears eventually went away as she settled into life at FSU and started to establish herself among her teammates.
“Being part of a team is sort of like a sorority just with a lot more work,” she said. “If my teammates didn’t accept me they wouldn’t listen to me when I tried to direct them on the field and it would be obvious in our play. I think those fears were laid to rest early on and that was confirmed when my teammates honored me as their co-captain.”
Sarah enters her senior year as the lone goalie on FSU’s 2000 squad. That’s a big change for her since she spent most of 1999 splitting time in practice and in games with Jamie Gurtov .
“Last year, there were two goalies and there were a lot of positives to that,” said Sarah. “It really pushed me when we trained especially since we split time during the season. When I knew Jamie was going to start ahead of me it made me train that much harder.”
Sarah doesn’t think that the fact the she is `the goalie’ this year will change the way she prepares or make her less ready to help her team.
“I don’t have anyone to compete with this year but I set my own work rate,” she says. “When I don’t feel I’m playing up to my capabilities, I kick myself in the butt. This is my last year and I shouldn’t need anybody to push me to play at my best. ”
The pressure Sarah puts on herself and the commitment she has to her teammates drives her more than anything does as she enters her final year of collegiate soccer.
“There’s a lot of pressure on me but I put that pressure on myself,” says a determined Crawford. “It’s my senior year and I want to play really well. I want to play well for this team. I get so excited every time I walk down those steps to the field and the fact that I am here and a Florida State Seminole just pumps me up. I hope everyone gets as excited as I do about that.”
As she enters her last hurrah on the pitch, Sarah starts to reflect on her time here and how she wants to end her career. It is important to her to make sure that her team doesn’t leave this university without making its mark.
“I want to leave a legacy,” said Sarah. “Every person has the opportunity to leave a legacy or their own mark in some way. I want people to say I was a great goalie when I leave this program and that I was a major part of the team. I want to be remembered for having a lot to do with the team’s success. These aren’t selfish reasons. I want these things because I know it will help our team win.”