Oct. 9, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Let’s face it, we all love the story of the walk-on athlete who beats all the odds and goes on to become a star. We love to hear about an underdog who gets a chance and makes good. Seminole soccer player Christy Peacock is that athlete.
Despite the fact that she has started just one match and appeared in only 24 games in three plus seasons, teams don’t win without players like Christy. The Seminole soccer program doesn’t go from being the low-man on the ACC totem pole to the Sweet 16 without teammates like her. Christy’s contribution to Florida State soccer can never be measured in goals, assists or starts because what she brings to the table will never show up in her statistics.
This former non-scholarship walk-on from Lilburn, GA has taken a somewhat unconventional route to being the captain of a Sweet 16 team. In fact, she wasn’t even sure that she wanted to play college soccer when she arrived on the campus of Florida State.
“I didn’t think I wanted to play soccer anymore,” said Christy. “I had played for so long and I thought I was kind of tired of it. I was coming to Florida State anyway and I got an opportunity to try out and I made the team as a walk-on.”
Christy learned a lot from the way her Florida State career started. You don’t play ACC soccer unless you were a star in high school but that alone doesn’t guarantee you anything. Everyone in this conference was a great high school player and it is a whole new playing field in the nation’s top soccer conference.
“Every player on this team was a star,” said Christy. “We were lifted up and told we were great soccer players but now we are all competing for positions and time. All of us want to be out there. I think each one of us will have our time on the field but until we do we need to push each other but I know from personal experience that is easier said than done.
“Everyone could learn something though from starting their careers as a walk-on. People should get the opportunity to see what its like to start out not being seen as a very good player and getting no scholarship money to earning a scholarship and earning playing time. You really appreciate every minute you are on the field. It makes you feel like the hard work has paid off. There are so many benefits and great things that come from taking that path.”
That is the path Christy has taken. Not only did she walk-on and eventually earn a scholarship and playing time but this year she was voted one of three captains by her teammates. That is an honor that isn’t usually awarded to a player who doesn’t start or to a player who on occasion doesn’t even play.
“I sometimes think about why I was voted a captain,” said Christy. “It probably started when I was a freshman. I took a lot of different roles as a young player on the team. I tried to be a team player from the beginning and get to know everyone on the team. I never judged people and I just tried to be there for my teammates. I’ve always been a player who tries her hardest and I think people noticed that. I worked hard and tried to push everyone else even though I didn’t get a lot of playing time.
“My first year was difficult and I tried to make the best of it and never look at it as a bad experience. We weren’t winning a lot of games but I always tried to remain positive and I think I gained some respect for that type of attitude.”
Fulfilling the role of a positive team player when you are struggling with your own problems on and off the field is a difficult job and it is one that Christy often wonders if she does well. She desperately wants to start like every senior does and she can’t help but get caught up in many of the same problems that other players on the team face when it comes to their own careers.
“Sometimes I feel like I don’t do such a great job leading and get caught up in my own problems with playing time just like other members of the team,” she said. “That is something I have to step back and look at. I have the same feelings as everyone else but I still have to try to fulfill the role of a captain and put that aside. Sometimes I fail and sometimes I succeed.
“I would like to be out there every second and be on the field to share in all the great things that are happening to this program. It is difficult at times. The older I get the more I want to be out there.”
That hasn’t stopped the senior from continuing to try and fill the role her teammates have given her. It was easier to lead in Christy’s opinion before she slid the captain’s armband over her jersey. She just did things they way she always had and never really gave much thought to the fact that her teammates were looking to the kid on the bench who was at every team function, always on time to practice and working hard whether she was playing or not.
“I don’t think I ever made a decision to work hard and take on a role as a leader,” said Christy. “It is just the way I have always been. If there are things I want to achieve, I work hard to reach those goals. I try to have a good time, make friends and get the most out of every situation.
“It is a little different once you officially get the title of captain. It’s now this big role you have to fulfill.”
Part of that role is being asked by your coach to do some of the things that are hard for a coach to do. Many times there are things going on that the team needs to handle itself or that the coach needs to know about. Those are just a few of the duties coach Patrick Baker asks his captains to perform.
“The three captains, Meredith (Jones), Heather (Dyche) and myself, talked to coach Baker and let him know the type of role we wanted to play,” recalls Christy. “There are things the coach needs to know about but this year we wanted to deal with the things we needed to deal with as a team by ourselves. The three of us wanted to handle certain things and be responsible for coming up with solutions. We can’t throw every little thing on coach Baker’s shoulders. He has so many things going on and there should be things we can deal with ourselves.
“The biggest thing that he asks of the captains is to be a role model. We had a great year last year but there is a whole new group of players who weren’t here for that and they need someone to look up to. We have to be positive role models so hopefully the younger players will follow our lead.”
The role of the captain on the Florida State soccer teams demands a special kind of relationship with coach Baker. He relies on his captains and expects a lot from each and every one of them. Sometimes that can be a tough balancing act with all of the dynamics that are involved in the relationship between a player and coach. That has never been a problem for Christy.
“It is nice to be able to go straight to the top and discuss my problems and the team’s problems with coach,” said Christy. “It is easy for me to go to coach Baker and talk to him. We have had a great relationship since he first came here. I feel very comfortable telling him almost anything and I think I have told him almost everything I think and feel.
“He has really got to know us since he first got here and he has made us part of his family. He has us over his house and that allows us to see him and get to know each other in different situations. He always encourages us to come to his office and make time to build a relationship. He has opened up and that has helped me build a strong relationship with him.”
So how does Christy view her leadership style? It isn’t something she every really sat down and thought about previously. People who know Christy know that she leads every time she steps on to the practice field and she leads in every fitness session. Christy came into the season as the team’s fittest player and these are just a few of the ways she leads by example but there is more to being a captain. Being there for her teammates is one of the ways she hopes she can make the biggest impact.
“I hope my teammates look at me as a team player, a friend and as a leader,” said Christy. “I hope they know I am always there for them and they can always count on me. I want people to look to me when they need help with their problems and come to me with questions. I also always need to be looking around and get a feeling for what is going on with the team. I have to ask questions of myself to see if there is anything I can do here and there to take care of any problems.”
Although she often struggles to know if she is doing enough or leading her teammates in the right way, it is hard to argue with the success of this year’s squad under the guidance of Christy, Heather and Meredith. The 2001 Seminoles are off to the best start in school history and the team is sitting atop the ACC for the first time ever.
Since her arrival, Christy has seen the Florida State soccer program reborn. She has gone to the NCAA Tournament, been a part of a team that defeated the University of North Carolina and made friends that will last her a lifetime. It’s safe to say things have worked out pretty well for the walk-on defender from Georgia.
“I don’t think if I could go back and change things, I would,” said Christy. “I love soccer. I love the game and I love the team. Going through this process will help me throughout my life. Everything that has happened to me and everything that has happened to this team is a great lesson of what type of positive things that can happen if you work hard and believe. I’ll take this whole experience with me wherever I go in the future.”