Coming into the 2018 season, Lone Peak head girls soccer coach Shantel Jolley thought junior Addy Symonds was going to do pretty well.
But as the Knights got going, Jolley saw Symonds had taken her game to a new level.
“The jump she made from last year to this year was unbelievable,” Jolley said. “She played varsity last year and we had her as an outside back. When we moved her to center back this year, it was a completely different back line we had. She was a crucial, crucial part of our team, not just on the back line but as a leader. She is the type of player every coach dreams of having.”
Jolley credited Symonds’ work ethic for making the difference in her game.
“She works hard and does a lot of work on her own,” Jolley said. “She was the one who would spend the most time after practice working on things. She was always, always wanting to get better. Her soccer IQ is top notch, which is something you can’t really teach. She is a really smart player.”
The determination Symonds had was evident on the field as the Lone Peak defense continued to improve throughout the season.
When it got to the biggest stage, the 6A state playoffs, the defense was unbeatable as the Knights didn’t allow a single goal in the four rounds. Eventually, that defensive performance allowed Lone Peak to win its first state title in girls soccer.
“In practice, we would set goals where we wanted no goals to be scored for a week,” Symonds said. “Then we could translate that into the games. We talked to each other about putting our best out there so we could win state. It made a big difference. We had really great coaches who pushed us to be a winning team.”
She couldn’t help but grin as she recalled coming out as the top team in Class 6A.
“It was awesome,” she said. “There is no better feeling in the world because we worked our butts off so we could accomplish our goals. My teammates were all so good, which made it really fun.”
For her leadership, dedication and elite performance, the Daily Herald is pleased to recognize Symonds as the 2018 Utah Valley Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
The Knight junior said she’s been playing soccer since she was 4 years old and although there were some other activities that she did, soccer was always her passion.
“I’ve always loved it,” Symonds said. “It’s what I love to do the most.”
As the years have gone by, she has improved tremendously but she has always put a lot of pressure on herself to excel and be the best she can be.
“I’m supercritical of myself,” the junior defender said. “I would have games where I would play well and then a drought of a few games where I wouldn’t feel as good about how I played. I want to be more consistent with how I play.”
That standard of self-evaluation meant Symonds had to think for a moment when asked about her biggest strengths as a soccer player.
“I feel like I’m pretty composed on the ball — for the most part,” Symonds said. “I feel like I work hard. I’m always trying to do my best for my teammates.”
Jolley said that even after the great run to the top, she had an experience that exemplifies Symonds’ personal drive.
“We had interviews at the end of the season and she mentioned how she was so nervous and scared, and thought she didn’t play well in the playoffs,” Jolley said. “That shows the kind of player she is. To me, she played the best she did all season in the playoffs, but she has such a high standard for herself that she’s never content. She always thinks she can get better.”
Jolley said that Symonds puts the same effort and dedication into things other than soccer.
“As much as she is the player you want on the field, she is the person, the student, the girl you want to have off the field,” Jolley said. “She gets excellent grades, which I always feel that the discipline the girls have in the classroom will be reflected on the field. She is kind to her teammates and is very coachable.”
When not playing soccer, Symonds said she likes to run track, hang out with friends, go skiing, be outdoors or on the family boat. She said she enjoys chemistry, English, history and math.
She said that she has learned the value of staying upbeat and believing in yourself, which is the advice she would give to other young soccer players.
“I would tell someone to always be confident,” Symonds said. “It makes all the difference in the world. Positivity builds confidence for yourself and for those around you, then they play better as well.”
As a junior, Symonds has one more season with the Knights and Jolley is confident her star defender will make the most of it.
“She is not satisfied in winning state just once,” Jolley said. “Every team is competing to win state but for her, it’s now why shouldn’t we repeat? There is no reason we shouldn’t get back to the finals or win again. For her, that drive to always get better is who she is. That will continue next year, so I can only imagine her getting better than she is now.”