Vanessa Patry Feature
Nov. 8, 2007
AMHERST, Mass. - She may not be as vocal as Ray Lewis, but with her intellect and ability, Vanessa Patry doesn't need to yell and dance to set an example.
"She gets out there and trains, and when I say `let's get started,' she's the first one out there ready to go," Massachusetts soccer coach Jim Rudy said. "She trains hard, works on her skills, and is attentive. A lot of players, you have to train to get them into the mode of what you're looking for. With her, I don't even need to diagram it. I can describe it and it clicks in. She has a soccer mind, and we haven't had too many quite at that level."
Patry's abilities and leadership have clearly resonated well with Rudy as well as her teammates. Along with goalkeeper Kristin Walker and midfielder Jenny Roehrig, Patry captains the UMass team. While Walker and Roehrig are traditional senior captains, Patry is a junior and will presumably graduate as a two-time captain of the Minutewomen.
"She's just a great person," midfielder/defender Christina Nunes said. "Everyone likes her and everyone respects her. I think that's the most important quality when you're a leader, just to make sure you have the respect of your teammates."
It didn't take long for Patry - who's been playing soccer since she was 4-years-old - to figure out the collegiate game. Though she cites it as tougher and involving fewer touches than high school, she has started in all but one game since arriving in Amherst in 2005.
Rudy recruited Patry at his advanced girls' soccer camp, and it's a decision he certainly does not regret.
Being captain as a junior gives one the potential to become full of themselves, but Patry is quick to downplay the accomplishment and give credit to others.
"It's a great thing," she said, "but there's also five other seniors above me who are great leaders too."
Walker and Roehrig are the more vocal captains, with Patry most often leading by example. She is both third on the team with three goals and four assists, but the stat sheet does not do justice to what Patry can bring to the field. With her high soccer IQ and knack for knowing where surrounding players are at all times, the Delmar, N.Y. native is able to make the players around her better.
"She's a great physical presence on the field," Nunes said. "She's a great target; she's versatile and can play anywhere. As a midfielder, having her play up front, she makes herself really easy to find, and then she creates when she has the ball."
Excelling on the field is nothing new to Patry. She lettered five years for Bethlehem High School and is the all-time leader at the school with 239 points, which includes 82 goals and 75 assists. Patry was also Section II player of the year, three-time team offensive MVP, and part of the 2002 Section II championship team.
Being selected as captain of a Division I athletics program as a junior is rare, but then again, so are student-athletes who double-major in biology and neuroscience.
"I knew that I wanted a big school because I wasn't sure academic wise what I wanted to do, so I wanted a lot of options," Massachusetts women's soccer forward Vanessa Patry said. "I came on a recruiting visit, coach was awesome, the team was awesome, so everything just fit."
Once her playing days are over, Patry will have an impressive résumé to fall back upon. Her future plans include graduate school, but the junior wants to take off a couple of years after college to further improve her credentials. Working at a hospital or getting an internship are two possibilities Patry is keeping open.
Her future appears promising, however, Patry still has plenty of soccer and plenty more teammates to lead along the way.