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September 25, 2013

Foley soccer player receives opportunity to continue soccer career

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Pictured is former Madison Heights Bishop Foley soccer player and current Albion College athlete Lauren Cross. Although Cross wasn’t expecting to be part of Albion’s team, she has been enjoying her time with the Britons.

After Lauren Cross completed her senior season at Madison Heights Bishop Foley, she thought her days of playing organized soccer were over.

Cross enrolled at Albion College for academic purposes, and other than the possibility of playing on the club level or intramurals, she was prepared to move on from the sport she had played since she was a child.

But after arriving on campus, Cross found that the urge to play soccer was still there. Instead of ignoring it, she opted to reach out to Albion women’s soccer coach Eric Scott to find out if there was a spot for her on the team.

It turns out there was, giving her the opportunity to combine her academic pursuit with the experience of playing college soccer at the Division III level.

Cross is happy to have the chance to enhance her college experience and has found that her freshman year at Albion has become all the more rewarding.

“I love it here,” she said. “The girls are all so nice. The way we’ve come together and formed a family so quickly, it’s really been awesome. We’ve all gotten along really well, and we go out of our way to make sure we know each (other), not just as a player on the field, but as a friend. We’re all there for each other, and it’s been really fantastic. It’s a nice bonus to come in already having a family and playing the sport I love — it’s great.

“Lindsey (Lubanski) and Anne Marie (Galus) are our captains, and they’ve been so awesome to us. Coach Scott — he’s helped me out. I feel like I’ve learned so much, even in three weeks. He’s a great coach.”

Although she hasn’t been there long, Cross has already caught the attention of Scott, who is in his first season at the helm at Albion.

“She’s a good kid — I’m excited,” he said. “She came in as the fittest freshman; I hope she can maintain that over the next four years. She set a standard for that. I think she’s started every game so far. I expect her, over the four years, to be a big-time player in our program.”

During her career at Foley, Cross, whose hometown is Clinton Township, was part of a Ventures team that won a state championship in 2011 and was named as a captain her season campaign. She credits her time at Foley with helping her learn to be a leader and would like to take what she learned with her to Albion.

“I became more of a leader at Foley — helped carry myself in a positive manner and also helped encourage others,” she said. “I learned how to handle a lot of pressure and stress. I have a good sense of community, and I really found that here at Albion — everybody is so friendly and open. It’s really helped me transition.

“It’s a great group of freshmen here, and I think we all will be great leaders for the team when we’re seniors. Together, we create a really good leadership unit, and I think, in four years, it’ll be really good for the team.”

Cross’ sister, Kyla, plays soccer for Illinois State University, and she credits support from her sister and other family members, as well as some of her coaches, including Keith Jeffrey, an assistant at Foley during her playing days, for coming as far as she has in her soccer career.

Some of the keys Cross cited for getting her to this point are also ones she hopes to continue to apply as she moves forward with her life.

“I’ve had lots of support and encouragement (from) family and teammates,” she said. “Also, I try really hard to be the best I can be and work as hard as I can. Even when I do fail, I try not to get down on myself. Determination and work ethic — that’s really how I got here, and it’s really paid off. (I’m) trying to stay as optimistic as possible.”

Cross plans to major in athletic training, and her post-college ambition is to attend graduate school and find work in the field of physical therapy.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.