Oct. 21, 2010
Leading the Way
By David Boyce
Near the end of practice Wednesday afternoon, Northwest Missouri State junior defender Jacque Dedovesh had a few words for her soccer teammates.
"She said, ‘come on, we have a game tomorrow, let's get more serious and focused," said head coach Tracy Hoza.
It was the action of a captain, a role Dedovesh accepts.
"I have embraced it to the point where I try to keep our team's head up and positive and just remind everybody this is the sport we love no matter how stressed out life can be and school can be," Dedovesh said.
"Soccer is the one thing we love to do. I try to get them motivated every day. This is what we love to do and let's show everybody how good we can be."
The Bearcats enter today's home game against Emporia State with a 2-8-3 mark. The wins have been much harder to come by than last year's record-breaking season of 11-8-1.
Struggles were expected. Northwest lost six starters and a senior class of eight players.
As the Bearcats go through this year of transition it would be easy for the older players to get frustrated during the latter stages of the season.
That's simply not in Dedovesh's personality. She sees the positives when others might look at the Bearcats' record and think of the negatives.
"You got to be able to take an adverse situation and expect the unexpected and deal with that," said Hoza. "Do you step up and lead or do you hide away? She is definitely stepping up and keeping things positive."
A loss is always difficult to taste, especially if you work hard and do the things necessary to win. It's easy to get down.
"Even though we haven't had the best of seasons, I've learned you have to keep a positive attitude no matter how bad you lose," Dedovesh said. "It's a game and you just have to work to the best of your abilities so you will have no regrets."
Every sports team needs a motivator like Dedovesh who sees the positives.
"Our freshmen have stepped up 110 percent," she said. "We could not ask for a better freshmen lineup. They start games. They play with their hearts and passion for soccer in every game and the rest of the team has responded really well. We've been working hard all season no matter how bad we lost the day before or the week before."
Dedovesh has just as bright an outlook for the seniors, who are helping the freshmen build for the success that the Bearcats experienced last year.
"I hope with the seniors we have this year that they enjoy the rest of the season," she said. "The seniors now are like my best friends. I just want us to enjoy the rest of the season, try our hardest and even though we started off on not such a good note, we finish to the end."
In the win-at-all-cost nature that has seemingly engulfed sports at all levels, it is easy to forget that some of the best character-building and memorable moments come in a season that produces only a handful of wins.
Dedovesh is a perfect example of it. Despite the record, Dedovesh gives her best each game. She hasn't waved the white flag on this season. She still gets excited and nervous before the game.
If the results weren't posted, it would be hard to detect from Dedovesh that the Bearcats were coming off a 4-0 loss to Central Missouri.
"She's done a great job of keeping it positive even though it has been a rough year and a rough transition," Hoza said. "Every day is better and tomorrow will be better. She has that attitude and sticks to it."
Hoza can easily recall the words Dedovesh delivered to her teammates before the games began.
"At the very beginning of our season she said we are together in our results," Hoza said. "Everybody is to walk with each other and nobody is to blame. We walk together to the end."
Dedovesh is sticking with that attitude. She wants her teammates to play for each other because the team is a family.
The experience this year is only adding to what has been a wonderful time for Dedovesh at Northwest. She's a double major in business marketing and fashion merchandising.
When she graduates from Northwest she wants to either work in the marketing department of an advertising agency or own a restaurant.
The Lee's Summit native will take a part of Maryville with her.
"The people around me, my coach, my teachers, my teammates, my friends, no matter how hard things have gotten or how good things are, I've had the same people by my side pushing me through the hard times and the good times," Dedovesh said. "It has made college a lot easier than I think for most people."
And how would she describe Maryville to her Lee's Summit friends who have never been there.
"I tell them it is a small town, but everybody there cares about you and supports you no matter if you won two games or 10 games," she said. "It has been a great college experience overall."
And Dedovesh still has plenty of her junior year left and an entire senior season to experience so much more.
David Boyce spent more than 20 years covering high school and small college athletics at the Kansas City Star newspaper in Missouri. He's covered six of Northwest Missouri State's seven national championship football games and recently served as a guest columnist for the MIAA.
Boyce was named KIAAA Sportswriter of the Year in 1994. He covered boxing at the Star from 1991-2004 including Tommy Morrison and worked both championship fights between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. His 1997 exclusive story on Morrison becoming HIV positive was named an Associated Press Sports Editor top 10 feature for papers serving more than 150,000.
Boyce was born in New York City and was raised in Kansas City, Kan. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1988 with a degree in journalism. He is currently one of three official scorers for the Kansas City Royals and is a contributing writer for the Royals Gameday magazine.
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