Leading with a purpose

Mary Kate Moeder

Internationally recognized leadership educator John Baldoni once said, “Leadership is an active, living process. It is rooted in character, forged by experience and communicated by example.” 

The Xavier boys’ and girls’ soccer seniors are leading with a purpose for their final high school season. 

“Like any Xavier sport, you know that there is a long history and tradition that comes with it,” senior Nick Lemke said. “So many players have gone through the same experience, and like the previous years, we hope to have success with the big goal [state championship] in mind,” Lemke said.

Lemke began playing soccer at the age of six. He explains how playing with a majority of his current teammates growing up at both FC United and Regis Middle School has accounted for the team’s success.

“Building and growing connections while playing together is extremely important because you gain trust and chemistry with the team, which makes everyone play better,” Lemke said. 

Xavier boys’ soccer’s constant achievements can be credited to the comforting atmosphere.

“This soccer program welcomes anyone and everyone and is so kind to the players,” senior Lincoln Oakley said.

The sense of family among the Xavier boys’ soccer team is a result of legacies left by former players. The 2021 seniors are hopeful in continuing this impact for future generations. 

“I hope to leave the same legacy that the older groups above us left,” Lemke said. “I want the younger group to remember us as a hardworking, competitive and winning team that would do anything for each other.” 

Winning appears to be a consistent theme that serves as a driving factor for these seniors. 

“I have always   just  wanted  to win,” senior   Reese     Ohde    said. “I also just try and do the best that I can do.”

The individual desire to win begins with a passion to benefit the team as a whole. 

“The main goal is to win games, so I will do what it takes inside and outside of practice to give my team the best chance to do that,” senior Arnold Mutasingwa said.

Knowing that the end is drawing near, the Saints have set their standards high. 

“My motivation for soccer is that I know that this will be the last competitive sport I ever play,” Lemke said. “We all have one more chance to achieve our goal and we are all working very hard to make sure our goal is met.”

That goal is to add an eighth title this year to the boys’ program’s history after the most recent win in 2015.

Along for this final journey is the girls’ soccer seniors. As sophomores, they helped lead their team to a victory in the Class 2A state championship game in June of 2019, marking the tenth championship win in Xavier’s history. 

Senior Ella Kluesner, who had the game winning goal in the Saints’ 2019 state championship win, began playing soccer at the age of four. 

“I think I have stuck with the sport for so long because of the people, freedom and creativeness the sport allows players to have,” Kluesner said. “These four years in the Xavier soccer program have meant the world to me. Throughout the years, I have found girls that I know I will continue to stay friends with for years to come.” 

One of those friends for Kluesner is senior Amanda Ross.

“Ella [Kluesner] and I connect well and work well together,” Ross said. “Building connections has helped me grow as a player as it makes me a better teammate.”

The tight bonds that have been formed have proven to play a significant role in Ross’ experiences as a Saint. 

“Xavier soccer has been very important to me as I have met so many amazing people and we have gone through a lot of ups and downs,” Ross said. 

Similar to the senior boys, the girls aspire to create a lasting impact for younger players through discipline and dedication.  

“I hope to leave the legacy of being a hard worker and show the underclassmen you are the only one who can get you to where you want to go,” senior Lilya Ward said. “There are coaches and teammates who can push you, but really you have to want it and there is a lot that goes into that.”

As these two groups of seniors journey through one last season together, be sure to catch them in action. Come on out to Xavier and watch the boys take on Waterloo East at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4. Support the girls as they compete at home against Center Point Urbana on Friday, April 30 at 7:15 p.m.