On the surface, the Oklahoma soccer team’s three seniors may not seem to have all that much in common.
An Oklahoman, a Californian and a Texan. Two midfielders and a defender. One is described as “quiet,” another “the class clown,” the third is “very straightforward.”
But in these seemingly contrasting individuals, the Sooners found three leaders to lead the way through the beginning of a major transition over the past two years: new coaching staff, new standards, new expectations, new...everything.
Instead of creating conflict, Bailey Boulware, Zoe Dickson and Kathryn Watson have allowed their personalities to complement each other. Instead of resisting chance, the trio has set an example and led the way for OU’s young squad.
“Change can be very challenging on any player, but this is especially true for upperclassmen,” head coach Matt Potter said. “From day one, this group embraced all that we have tried to instill. They’ve taken responsibility for the group to move forward.”
Boulware, Dickson and Watson were part of the last team at Oklahoma to reach the NCAA tournament in 2010, instantly setting themselves apart as winners in the history of the program. But the true mark of what these seniors have achieved does not lay in results or scores or statistics. Instead, it can be seen in the influence the group has exerted on a team that needed strong leaders on and off the field.
“With a new coaching staff and being older, we had the responsibility of setting the right example for the standards being place on us,” Boulware said. “We knew we were going to have to step up.”
At a time when change was playing a huge role in every facet of the program, this group of upperclassmen chose to find the positives in the situation.
“Getting a new coaching staff for me was like a breath of fresh air,” Watson said. “I feel like Matt and his staff gave me a second chance at college soccer. Obviously it wasn’t easy, because we did go through a lot of change, but I think it has been really beneficial.”
Dickson gives part of the credit for her class’s leadership back to the coaching staff, who she said has created the best environment possible considering the circumstances.
“A transition period is always complicated,” Dickson said. “It’s been really positive for us. We have had to trust the coaching staff to know what they’re doing it, and we have to buy into the program for it to go in the right direction.”
But Potter is quick to turn the tables on the compliment, saying that the coaching staff demanded a great deal and his senior class rose to the challenge in every way possible. The group has grown not only as athletes on the field, but as young women and leaders in the classroom and the community.
“From day one, they embraced the new team members as equals, challenging them as peers to achieve and meet our program’s core values,” Potter reflected. “They have led from the front with commitment to performance both on and off the field. It has been fun to watch them grow as they get more comfortable with their personalities and leadership styles.
“What separates them is their appetite and passion to pursue and push themselves as servants in the community. They truly represent all that is in the definition of student-athlete.”
After four seasons together as classmates and two under the OU coaching staff, perhaps no one at Oklahoma knows Boulware, Dickson and Watson better than each other. SoonerSports.com sat down with the senior class and head coach Matt Potter to discuss what stands out about each of the seniors as individuals, students and leaders.
Bailey Boulware (Midfielder – Mustang, Okla.)
“...always has a positive attitude...”
“...her work ethic is incredible.”
“...a positive ray of sunshine...”
“Bailey is really quiet, but she does her part and never complains about anything. Even when things aren’t going her way, she always has a positive attitude and always leads by example.” –Zoe Dickson
“Bailey and I are actually roommates this year, which is so awesome. We’ve gotten to know each other a lot better. Bailey will, no matter what, work her hardest and try the hardest at everything. I’ve never seen it in someone like I see it in her. I’ve had the pleasure of having classes with her, and her work ethic is incredible.” –Kathryn Watson
“Bailey represents all that is good and necessary for any team to accomplish great things. She has wonderful work ethic, is a committed team member and makes others around her better. Bailey serves as a role model to those who understand the daily influence you can have whether you play every minute of every game or not. She has been a positive ray of sunshine since we arrived and I am privileged to have had an opportunity to grow with the group alongside her.” –Head coach Matt Potter.
Reflections on Zoe Dickson (Midfielder – Modena, Calif.)
“...someone I can rely on.”
“...very talented but so humble.”
“...an absolute leader...”
“With Zoe and the type of person she is, I know I can go to her for anything and know exactly what I’m going to get—on and off the field. She’s someone I can rely on. You have to get to know Zoe for her personality to come out. She’s a really fun person to be around and she can always make you laugh. Zoe is very straightforward and you know what you’re going to get from her. I think that’s a good quality in a person.” –Bailey Boulware
“Zoe has been one of my best friends since day one. We were roommates freshman year in the dorms, so I got to know her really quickly. We have completely opposite personalities, which makes it easy for us. She knows so much about me and I know so much about her. I definitely look up to her on the field; she’s very talented but also so humble. She’s always been a great friend and that’s what I think of when I think of Zoe.” –Kathryn Watson
“Zoe has had the senior year you hope all seniors have the opportunity to have. She has been an absolute leader on the field, taking the game and challenge to our opposition on a consistent basis. Her performances have been magnificent and she has played a true captain’s role. Off the field, she will leave OU having set the standards for all that will be necessary for the program to grow further. I am thankful and grateful for all she has done. Zoe will be missed.” –Head coach Matt Potter
Reflections on Kathryn Watson (nickname: Kater) (Defender – Richardson, Texas)
“...good with anything as a leader...”
“...an extrovert, very talkative and very vocal...”
“...driven, focused and caring...”
“Kater is the class clown. No matter what’s going on that day, she’s going to make you laugh. She’s good with anything as a leader, and she’s more vocal. She brings that aspect to our team, and that’s something we really need.” –Bailey Boulware
“Kater is really an extrovert, very talkative and very vocal. I think she’s a big part of our leadership on and off the field. She’ll always speak up and speak her mind and say what she really means. That’s a huge part of what she brings to our team.” –Zoe Dickson
“Kater has to be one of the most driven, focused and caring student-athletes I have had the privilege of working with over my coaching career. She has been as instrumental off the field as she has on it. She is always thinking of her teammates and she influences the team with her care and positive energy every day. She is a wonderful example of what it takes to make the most of opportunities you are presented as a student-athlete.” –Head coach Matt Potter