Sports

Finding her 'Sweet Spot'

Instant gratification is a general expectation in the recruiting arena.

The prospective athlete wants immediate playing time and the ability to compete for a starting position. If it doesn’t come soon enough, expect the transfer paperwork in short order.

And then there’s 2004 South Kitsap graduate Lauren Gehring. Even after reaching the state playoffs in her three years with the Wolves, Gehring had no illusions of grandeur when it came to her role at the University of Puget Sound. After all, the Loggers were a sectional finalist from 2002-05 in NCAA Division III women’s soccer tournament and were the national championship runner-up in 2004.

In short, incoming recruits can expect to wait their turn, especially ones that come into the program as a center back, as Gehring did.

“I had a lot of people in front of me who were phenomenal players,” Gehring said. “I wouldn’t trade it (the experience) for anything. It will make me a better person.”

UPS coach Randy Hanson calls the center back a “storied” position in the program. Two years ago, Katie Wullbrandt was the Northwest Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year for the Loggers, who haven’t had a losing season since 1995.

Now it’s Gehring who has emerged as the Loggers again advanced to the sectionals, where they faced Wartburg College of Wheaton, Ill. yesterday.

“Lo’s done a great job of waiting for her time, stepping in and making that position her own,” Hanson said.

As one of just four seniors on the roster, teammates also count on her for direction.

“She brings a lot of leadership,” sophomore goalkeeper Kallie Wolfer said. “She’s the most vocal in the back.

“We couldn’t do anything without her.”

Even with a inexperienced squad around her, Gehring said she’s proud of the maturity her teammates have displayed. The Loggers won their first 17 matches this season and had a 20-1-1 record entering sectionals.

“In high school and select teams, you had players that wanted to play and those who played because their parents wanted them to,” she said. “Everyone has the same heart and desire here.”

That’s not to say Gehring doesn’t have fond memories of her time at South. She still talks with Eric Berguson, the former girls soccer coach at South, and hopes to become a teacher and coach someday.

“I’m not sure I want to go back to Port Orchard, but I want the same feeling,” said Gehring, a business major and history minor. “I want a smaller town with a big school.”

It will be a different direction than her parents, Rick and Karin, the longtime owners of Buck’s A&W on Mile Hill Drive.

“We got a lot of harassment growing up,” she said, referring to herself and her brother. “The other kids would say, ‘Get us a free root beer.’ ”

Gehring said she recommends the pumpkin or peppermint shakes. And like the long-lasting taste of a creamy treat, Gehring is enjoying her opportunity on the court.

“It definitely makes it a little more sweeter,” she said. “I’m proud of myself for sticking with it.”

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