She’s hard at work by 7 a.m. each morning, day in and day out. Two solid hours of hard work, conditioning and shots drills.
For junior forward Kate Howarth, this is what being a Hurricane is all about.
Howarth, who hails from Grand Blanc, Mich., leads the team in offensive statistics with 11 goals, six assists, 26 points, 39 shots, 17 shots on goal and three game-winning goals, while leading the team to the first postseason win in school history.
Although she has helped lead her team to the second round of the NCAA tournament this year, things were not always so simple. Howarth suffered a season-ending injury just 10 games into her sophomore year.
Such a devastating injury could have sidelined a player for good, discouraged and disappointed. But Kate Howarth is not just another player.
“My outlook on practicing and playing has always been, ‘play as if this is your last game,’ but getting injured and being out for almost an entire year just brings those beliefs to life,” Howarth said. “In one split second I went from playing the game I love to having three surgeries and crutching around for nine weeks. If I would have run a little slower or a little faster I wouldn’t have been there that second, I wouldn’t have been tackled. It was literally one moment.”
Howarth’s attitude speaks a lot to her character and determination as a player.
“I wouldn’t redo it if I could, it really gave me an entire new appreciation for the game and how it is a privilege to be able to play and never take it for granted,” she said. “Every single time I step onto the field I try my hardest to leave it all out there, because you don’t know what could happen. One split second can change everything.”
Howarth’s admirable mentality does not go unnoticed by her teammates and coaches.
“It was a really rough time when Kate got hurt, not only for her but for the team because we lost one of our goal scorers,” said Fatima Nasser, a junior midfielder. “But she recovered well and was one of the few that stayed over the summer to work out and get ready for the season with the strength coach and trainers.”
Part of Howarth’s success can be attributed to her continuous development as a player and leader.
“I think over the last three years I have developed as a player through experience,” she said. “Every single game you play in, you can go back and watch the film and pick out specific things you can work toward doing better in practice to make sure you don’t make those same mistakes again. That is a part of maturing as a player; there is always room for improvement, no matter what. That is the beauty of the game.”
Howarth mentioned the changes in coaching staff and the coming and going of teammates as major obstacles to a team’s success.
Coaching staff and teammates alike echoes her sentiments.
“I think Kate has a big impact on our team as a whole,” assistant coach Matt Kagen said. “We came in as a new staff and wanted to change the culture and hold the kids to high standards both on and off the field. She is one of those kids who is constantly upholding the standards here and that is a big reason we have been successful thus far.”
As a true leader, Howarth understands the importance of good team chemistry and not just personal success.
“We hang out outside of practice and trips all the time,” she said. “Almost all of us live together so we are literally together all the time. We are like a family in a sense. We live together, eat together, travel together and play together. I think if you asked any one on the team they would agree we don’t mind it that way either. We would have problems if we didn’t get along so well.”
Looking ahead to the future, Howarth understands the importance of personal goals as well as team goals.
“I have really high expectations for next year but I’m all about short term goals,” she said. “I think they are easier to focus on and achieve. So I like to take it one game at a time.”
For her own future, Howarth is open to possibilities after she graduates in 2012. Hopes of entering the WPS draft are on the horizon for Howarth, as well as coaching or going back to school back home in the Midwest.
Whatever her future may hold, Howarth knows soccer has played an important role thus far.
“Soccer has been monumental part of my life,” she said. “It has been something that I have used as an outlet since I was four. It turned into a passion that I ran with and never let go of. My life has always completely revolved around soccer, that is just how it has always been. It has definitely played a huge role in the person I’ve become.”