October 13, 2005

All In the Family

Oct. 13, 2005

By Amy Morazcewski

Santa Clara women's soccer was in its infant stages when Thalia Doherty (formerly Denault) entered Santa Clara University as a freshman in 1975. In fact, Thalia was among the pioneers of Santa Clara women's soccer who competed in intramurals for three years prior to forming an intercollegiate club team, which eventually evolved into the NCAA Division I powerhouse that her daughter, Kendall, joined a year ago.

Santa Clara women's soccer did not have much at the beginning. With a few exceptions, they did not even have soccer players. Most of the girls had played basketball or powder puff football, but never soccer. However, they were great athletes, and they possessed the determination necessary to propel the sport into the intercollegiate realm.

Thalia credits the efforts of all of the players and coaches for this development. "I know that it started from nothing, but the determination of the female athletes, as well as the coaches, has helped the sport get to where it is now. I think that Jerry being at Santa Clara has really contributed to the growth, because not only has he been the coach for nineteen years, but he has been a member of the Santa Clara community also."

After learning more about the history of the team and her mom's experience playing soccer at Santa Clara, Kendall developed a better understanding of the evolution of the program.

"Hearing stories from alumni at the 25th Anniversary celebration last spring and knowing that my mom was a part of it from the beginning really meant a lot," Doherty said. "I have a greater appreciation for how far Santa Clara soccer has come because I know that my mom played when there was nothing, and I realize that I owe her, in part, for my opportunity to play here and for the success of the program that she helped start."

Athleticism and determination remain two key components of Santa Clara soccer players to this day, in combination with years of experience and rigorous training. "By fourth grade, Kendall had played more than I did in my entire career," jokes Thalia. The competitiveness and skill level have increased rapidly throughout the years, but certain aspects of the program are remarkably similar.

Although the early teams may not have been as successful on the field, they played with passion and thrived on the team chemistry built through the game. "We weren't too good, but we loved that we were playing at a higher level of competition, and we had a great time as a team," says Thalia.

Strong team chemistry is one quality that has remained constant in Santa Clara soccer over the years, and this now extends beyond the players to the entire community.

"When Kendall came to Santa Clara, she was immediately welcomed onto the team. All of the girls on the team are her best friends. I think this welcoming nature is true of Santa Clara as a whole, not just the soccer team, and it is so gratifying to see that it is still true. Those friendships grow and continue to develop and extend beyond the players to their families, as well as the Santa Clara family," says Thalia.

Kendall may have been influenced by her parents' strong support of Santa Clara, but the decision to attend college here was completely her own. "I knew a lot about Santa Clara because of my parents, and I knew that they had a great experience, but they never pressured me to come here. I looked at a lot of schools, but when it came down to it, I really wanted to play for the Broncos and be a part of the Santa Clara community that I had always heard so much about."

This decision allowed Thalia to reconnect to the Bronco soccer family that she had helped to establish 25 years ago. "It was incredibly exciting for both Kelly (Kendall's father) and I because we are both alumni. It is such a thrill to go to the games and see her on the field. The support is huge now, not only the desire that the players have, but also the fans, both students and families. It is really amazing to be a participant now as a parent. We have grown close to all of the players and their families, and it is truly an amazing continuation of the Santa Clara family."

Attending the College Cup to watch her daughter participate last December, Thalia was awed by the development and success of the team, as well as the number of people who have been involved in the program throughout the years who returned to support the team. As groups came together in Cary, North Carolina in support of a shared goal, she realized that Santa Clara soccer will always be a connection, uniting people forever. As Kendall said, "The program has changed a lot, but the tradition is the same. You become more than teammates; you become family."

Come out and join the Bronco soccer family, as they continue conference play this weekend at Buck Shaw Stadium. They take on St. Mary's tonight at 7:00 and return to action on Sunday at noon against the University of San Francisco.