Athlete of the Week: Olivia Decatur

Editorâ??s note: Throughout the local high school sports season, Culpeper Times will recognize an â??Athlete of the Weekâ? from one of the sports. This week we’re featuring girls soccer. At the end of the year, the Times will select a male and female athlete at both Culpeper County and Eastern View high schools and recognize them as â??Athlete of the yearâ? at their respective schools.

The beautiful game, as Pele named it, also requires a beautiful mind. If all one knows about a soccer game is the score or how many saves the goalkeeper has ­­­they are taking a narrow perspective on the sport. A soccer team is successful only when its players possess creativity, on-­field vision, passing, speed on the wings, willingness to play defense and crossing ability.

Culpeper County High School forward Olivia Decatur, 17, possesses all those attributes as a player, according to her head coach Erick Kalenga and teammates. She plays the game with flare, passion and skill. The Devilettes routed James Monroe 9-­0 last week in its first game of the season.

â??Oliviaâ??s one of those players that may not show up on the statistics but sheâ??s so essential to our team,â? said Kalenga. â??She works hard and creates opportunities all over the field. She makes the key crossing passes and knows exactly where her teammates are on the field.

Though the season has just started the Devilettes appear to be a very good team.

â??Meshing well with my teammates, knowing every player and how they operate on the field is a big part of my game. I like making quick passes and using my speed,â? says Decatur, a senior at CCHS. â??Iâ??m a forward and sometimes a midfielder. Iâ??m probably best known for my possession and crossing ability. I love to make the assists.â?

For a very young age Decatur has laced up her cleats and logged countless hours and miles on soccer fields across the region.

â??I’ve been playing soccer since I was 4­years­old and started playing competitively for the Culpeper Comets Travel Team in 2007. I’ve been a varsity starter for Culpeper County High School team since 9th grade,â? said Decatur.

As an experienced starter, Decatur has a very good read on her teamâ??s potential this spring.

â??I think we have an excellent team this year with a nice combination of experience and youth. I believe we can win our district and do very well in our conference. I also think that we have the potential to do well in the regional playoffs,â? said Decatur. â??We use a quick passing game and team speed.â?

Decatur has a number of soccer role models, more specifically two of the best forwards in the world in Lionel Messi, of FC Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid. Her favorite womenâ??s player is United States Womenâ??s National team forward Alex Morgan.

Interestingly, Decatur at 5â??3â? is only four inches shorter than both Messi and Morgan.

Off the pitch she enjoys playing varsity field hockey in the fall, running cross country and believe it or not, she also views mathematics as a hobby. Her favorite class is calculus. Decatur is a very good student, according to teachers. She has been accepted to both James Madison University and Virginia Tech.

â??Iâ??m pretty sure I want to attend JMU but Virginia Tech is also still a possibility­­­ either way I want try out for their club teams and hopefully make the jump to their soccer teams,â? said Decatur.

The support of family is essential to a young athlete. Decatur recalls the high level of support from her family since the first day she laced up her cleats.

â??They have supported me throughout and they are the ones that introduced me to the sport,â? added Decatur.

Marshall Conner is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at kelpiescot@gmail.com