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Lavelle’s Badgers legacy inspires young athletes

MADISON (WKOW) — Former Wisconsin Badger Rose Lavelle has kicked her way into the nation’s heart.

Lavelle scored a key goal in the World Cup on Sunday, helping secure a win for the US Women’s Soccer Team.

“I got the chills. I was so happy for her, I couldn’t believe she did it,” said Marisa Kresge, who played for UW with Lavelle.

Kresge is now assistant coach for the UW Women’s Soccer Team. She says Lavelle was always a bright spot on the team.

“She always had fun while doing it. She never took life too seriously,” she said. “It was awesome being around her, just the energy she brought.”

Head Coach Paula Wilkins saw promise when she recruited the young Badger, who was underestimated because of her small stature.

“The obstacle for Rose to reach the highest level was going to be herself, her mental game, her ability to focus, to trust herself,” Wilkins told 27 News. “That’s the biggest jump she made when she left here, is that when she got in the professional realm and the world area, she figured that out and obviously conquered the world.”

Lavelle quickly rose to become the top-ranked women’s college player in the nation and is now celebrated with a mural on the walls at UW. She was a starter from 2013 to 2016.

Now that Lavelle is gaining attention around the world, UW soccer coaches say they hope she’ll put the Badgers on the map, bringing in more recruits and recognition.

“When we talk to recruits, they want to be Rose and they want to be in that environment, so I think not just even with the women’s soccer program, but people across the state, I think, take pride in her being from here and being part of our athletic department,” Wilkins said.

And recruitment starts with young people.

“It’s really a joy to watch them and they’re really inspiring to me,” said Grace Dykstra, a Middleton soccer player.

Dykstra and nearly 170 other girls are at UW this week for a special soccer camp. The group watched the World Cup game together on Sunday and celebrated the win for the Badgers and the US.

“There would be eruptions of all different emotions from both sides. And it was really cool,” said Cassidy Kern, a soccer player from DeForest. “It makes me feel kind of special. And maybe I could maybe go up to that and get up to that level.”

Coaches hope Lavelle’s success will inspire young athletes to take up the sport, to help it grow in Madison.

“Just seeing how much time and effort she’s put into building her life into this really proves that hard work pays off. And I am thrilled for her. It’s awesome,” Kresge said.

Lavelle is the second-youngest American to score a goal in a World Cup game, so at just 24, she has a long career ahead of her with a lot of potential.

“She’s just not a former player. She’s part of our family, so we miss her, but we were so glad of what she’s achieved,” Wilkins said.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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