Could a serious soccer sisterhood from Timpanogos High School in Orem be on its way to becoming a dynasty?
Five former THS girls soccer players are now on Brigham Young University's women's soccer team: senior Megan Richardson Fereday, junior Stacy Bartholomew, junior Dana Oldroyd, sophomore Gel Dickson and freshman Marissa Nimmer.
All five have played at Timpanogos under the direction of head coach Natty Lewis.
"All of them had a ton of talent before they got to me," Lewis said. "They have done remarkable things for our program, and have led on the field and off. They have had dreams, goals and aspirations, and have achieved them. I am very proud of them."
Over the past seven years that Lewis has coached at Timpanogos, she counts at least another 10 players (in addition to the current BYU five) who have received scholarships and gone on to play at the collegiate level. Lewis said the high school varsity team has 18 to 20 players, and a college roster averages about 24 players.
"It's incredible, really," said THS principal Theron Murphy. "Five players just from Timpanogos on the BYU team. I think it speaks volumes for our program. At Timpanogos, we are promoting excellence in performance, character and academics, and this soccer program defines that, as it builds athletes, scholars and citizens. It's fun to see what it does for the whole school."
Murphy pointed to recent successes -- the Timpanogos girls reaching the state finals last year and taking the state championship the previous year. He also emphasized the growing tradition of youth soccer in north Orem, and the contributions of feeder programs like Celtic Storm. The elite-level girls' soccer club for Utah Valley players was founded in 1996 by Robyn Bretzing, a THS physical education teacher and the first woman inducted into the Utah Soccer Hall of Fame.
Proverbial "soccer mom" Lisa Richardson has observed Timpanogos girls' soccer close-up for eight years, as daughters Lauren Richardson and Megan Richardson Fereday have gone through the program.
"I think what sets the program apart is that for the coaching staff, it is not just about great soccer, but it's also about building great young women," Richardson said. "Along with the soccer instruction, there are standards to be met in speech, in the girls' personal lives, in how they treat their classmates and team members. As a parent, I just really appreciate Natty. She cares, and wants the best for the girls, and it shows -- in a big way."
Nimmer, who plays midfield, said it is "kind of scary" to go from being a high school senior to a college freshman, but noted that seeing the familiar faces of Timpanogos teammates has helped her feel more comfortable and confident around the BYU team.
Dickson, a forward who played with Bartholomew, Oldroyd and Nimmer at THS, said it is "a lot of fun" having teammates carry over to BYU. "It's like a family, moving through the line," she said. She identified her best moment at Timpanogos as taking the state championship her senior year.
Bartholomew remembers her sophomore year at Timpanogos, when the team went 15-1, and the lone defeat came during the second round of the state playoffs. As a defender on BYU's team, she looks forward to having a healthy season, and avoiding injuries that have sidelined her in the past.
BYU will be playing in a new league this year -- the West Coast Conference -- and Oldroyd said the team is excited for the challenge.
"We will be playing Portland, and Santa Clara," she said. "Those are hard schools. We want to advance in the NCAA playoffs." Oldroyd also has personal goals this year to be "a reliable and supportive teammate," and to score as a defender.
Looking back on her college career, Fereday said a highlight has been BYU's consistency in winning championships. She said being at the university, getting to know the girls and being on the team has made her a better person. She also credits Lewis's coaching and high expectations with helping her to prepare to play collegiate soccer.