While most of us stuffed our faces with stuffing and turkey Thursday, Bre Choffin was out running four miles in Batavia.
“I’m looking forward to running the Turkey Trot on Thursday,” she says. “I race my dad every year.”
This year, her younger brother Zach, a Batavia High School sophomore who runs cross country, also will be involved in the race with their father, Mike.
“It’ll be a little family competition,” says Bre.
That spirit of competition has served her well at St. Ambrose University, where the junior is a captain of the women’s soccer team. She recently was honored with first-team all-conference recognition from the Midwest Collegiate Conference as a defender.
“I had never been recognized like that before,” Choffin says, adding that the team’s goalkeeper and another defender also were first-team selections. “It was just awesome knowing that we had one of the best defenses not only in the conference, but in the nation.”
The Fighting Bees (14-5-1) ranked second in the NAIA this year with 13 shutouts in 20 games. They won the conference title and advanced to the national tournament, where their season came to an end Saturday with a 4-2 loss to Davenport (Mich.) in brutal weather conditions.
“It was so cold,” Choffin says, noting that the game-time temperature was 22 degrees. “It was awful. I’ve never played in snow before, and it was snowing.”
St. Ambrose fell behind 3-0 in the opening half, but made things interesting with a pair of second-half goals, the second scored by Choffin.
“We got a cross off. The ball was bouncing around the box and it finally came to me and I slotted it back left post,” Choffin explained. “We turned the game around a little bit.”
The unusual sight of soccer players competing in snow was perhaps an appropriate ending for the Bees’ year.
“This season was so surreal. People didn’t expect us to do well,“ Choffin says. “We came together and ended up being a great team.”
After graduating from Batavia, Choffin chose St. Ambrose because it offered a doctoral program in physical therapy. Based on her academic success in high school, St. Ambrose offered Choffin an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
“Physical therapy just happened to be the trifecta,” she says. “I could study physical therapy, play soccer, and the scholarships they offered were awesome.”
She notes that Marquette and Maryville University in St. Louis are about the only other Midwest schools that offer a similar program.
“It was very limiting,” Choffin acknowledges, but says the lack of choice in colleges was offset by the benefit of being accepted into grad school as a high school senior.
“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” she says. “I wouldn’t change my decision ever. I just actually got my official acceptance to grad school a few weeks ago. I couldn’t be more excited to start the doctorate program.”
Choffin made an immediate impact on the soccer field at St. Ambrose.
“I was one of two freshmen to be on varsity,” she said. “I started on the varsity team. It was pretty awesome to be in that position.”
Choffin begins the graduate portion of her studies next year, which will take up all of her time from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, limiting her ability to contribute to the soccer team.
“I won’t be able to play as many games,” she says. “This year was probably my glory year.”
But Choffin can always satiate her thirst for competition on the basketball court, where she and some of her soccer teammates have an intramural team.
“My coach likes to tell everyone we’re the best and the worst,” she says. “We’re soccer players, so we’re aggressive, but we foul out a lot.”
• Dennis D. Jacobs writes the weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest local college athletes deserving of recognition, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.