Blog: Last Time Out w/ Candace Rushing
Monday, October 31, 2011
As I sit here on the bus riding back to Shreveport from Clarksville, Arkansas I find myself struggling to find the words that can truly convey what Centenary soccer has meant and will continue to mean to me.  It was five years ago that I became a member of the Centenary women's soccer team.  I will never forget meeting my freshman year roommate and teammate, Emily McManus, and heading to my first practice.  That evening as I stepped onto Mayo Field, I realized that I was getting myself into something big, something extremely meaningful to many people. 

From that day forward, I began to develop a strong sense of pride, compassion, and love for everything that Centenary soccer represented. Five years later, as I ride home reflecting on my very last day as apart of the Centenary women's soccer program, that pride, that compassion, and that love are more evident now than ever. 

All good things must come to an end.  I have acknowledged that, however this day was difficult to swallow.  The whistle blew in Clarksville, Arkansas and it was over for good.  My senior night has come and gone.  My last practice on Mayo Field has come and gone.  And now my last game played as a member of the Centenary women's soccer team has come, and has gone.

Through the ups and downs, I will always treasure this time.  These five years, and especially this last year, have been near close to magical.  Memories like playing The University of Arkansas my freshman year and falling an inch short in double overtime, competing against LSU my sophomore year, and playing a National Champion team in Hardin Simmons this season will all forever be engrained in my mind

There are even more memories that have left an everlasting imprint on my heart, however.  Memories like riding go-carts at a run down entertainment venue in Little Rock, looking over while playing at Grambling and seeing a man dressed like he was on the TV show Survivor, sprinting through and winning what was supposed to be a "fun" scavenger hunt at a camp site, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes at the YMCA ropes course here in Shreveport, carrying former teammate, Ashley Dolezel, down the streets of Vegas, playing our game verse North Dakota State in a lake, choosing to ride with Coach Evans in his van because former head coach Chase Wooten liked to drink Mountain Dew and eat ice cream all while driving his van, hiding a cat in my dorm room with my teammates my freshman year, stopping on the side of the road to see gators and deer, seeing Carly Slovensky trip over our chain linked fence before a stretch and run, and dressing up for Halloween after my very last game as a Centenary women's soccer player, are just a very few of them. 

Being apart of the Centenary women's soccer team has much more meaning to it than just the goals, the assists, the saves, the shutouts, the records, and the talent.  It means fellowship, sweat, lifelong friends, blood, sisters, laughter, tears, heartache, joy, and endlessness.  As my last few weeks began to wind down, these memories, these characteristics, and these meanings of Centenary soccer flooded my heart.  This final day could not have been better.

Close friend and teammate of three years, Holden Penney, scored a hat trick today to secure our 5-1 win over Ozarks.  It was a beautiful day in Clarksville, Arkansas, clear skies, and cool breeze.  I caught myself laughing and smiling, truly enjoying myself today as I played.  Coach Evans had the four seniors kneel as we held onto one another while Penney led the team in saying "Well done seniors" for our final chant together.  And to top it off, I dressed up as a Rubik's cube for the boy's game with teammate, Traci Lee.  It was a day, a season, and a time that I will never forget.  

Of all of the teams that I have been a part of while at Centenary, this team has made me smile the most, made me laugh the most, made me feel more proud than ever, and has made me feel more thankful than ever.  I could not have put together a better group of teammates and coaches that I would have wanted to end my college soccer career with.  So, thank you.

Thank you, freshman, for coming into this season and bringing with you your talent, but also your intensity, smiles, and excitement.  Thank you, sophomores, for sticking through a difficult season last year and contributing greatly to a successful season this time around.  Thank you, juniors, for sharing your skills, your love for the game, and your friendship over the last three years.  Thank you, fellow seniors, for a career that I will always remember with you three by my side.  Thank you Chase Wooten, for bringing me to Centenary.  And thank you Coach Evans and Coach Justin Neese, for believing in me, for challenging me, and for counting on me. 

I could write on and on about this time in my life, but like I mentioned before, all good things must come to an end.  Thank you fans, family, and friends for supporting me the last three years as I have attempted to give you all an inside look at the heart of the Centenary women's soccer program.  I am forever grateful and again, will never forget this time.

Before I leave you, I want to mention again how thankful I am for Coach Glenn Evans.  He is a remarkable man who has made a tremendous impact not only on me, but also on the lives of many, many, Centenary college soccer players.  Because of his steadfastness and dedication to Centenary Athletics, he is being inducted into the Centenary Athletic Hall of Fame to be recognized among other greats.  Congratulations, Coach Evans.

Alumni weekend is this weekend at Centenary.  Both the men and women's soccer teams will be taking on former players of Centenary soccer on Saturday.  The men's game begins at 2 pm and the women's will begin at 3 pm, both on Mayo Field.  Come out and support one last time this season.

And again, before you go, take a look at my final video that I put together this past weekend. 

I will never forget this time.  So long...

-Candace Rushing