Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chasing a challenge: Spokane’s Megan Lindsay discusses post-collegiate future

Megan Lindsay finished as one of SPU's all-time best scorers | photos: Wilson Tsoi /
It is free agency week for the new pro National Women’s Soccer League and the league’s supplemental draft will quickly follow, but don’t expect Spokane native and Seattle Pacific University All-American standout striker Megan Lindsay to be among those signing on the dotted line. Despite a desire to play in the league, the city’s record high school scoring leader is looking for new adventures.

“I would be interested in play for any team in the NWSL, but my real hope is to play for a team overseas,” Lindsay, who recently wrapped up her collegiate career at Seattle Pacific. “I would especially love playing for the Seattle Reign and representing my amazing city, and I also was looking to play for the Boston Breakers, and even Chicago for a while.

“The NWSL will be a very competitive level of soccer, but I have such a great opportunity ahead of me to travel. I have never been out of the country - unless you count Canada - and playing a sport I love while I do that, well, you can't get much better than that.

“I want to test the waters in Europe. I have been working with my college coach, Chuck Sekyra, to find options for me to play in Europe. He's been so great, and he has already had players travel to Germany and Sweden to play soccer after college. Even though I'm considered a graduated senior on the team, he has dedicated his time and efforts to help. I think that's a great testament to his character that he would do that for one of his players.”

Lindsay is coming off another postseason appearance for Sekyra, guiding the Falcons to the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament for a third consecutive season. She also led the team in scoring the past three years, finishing her career as the program’s third all-time highest scorer with 41 tallies.

“Coming in as a freshman, you always heard from players that this team is like family. This has been the case for four years,” she said. “The chemistry on the team was amazing. We all pushed each other and competed in practice just as much as we did in games. We studied together, ate together, laughed together and cried together. It’s hard losing that team dynamic, and I wish I could always feel that with every team I play for.

“The SPU coaching staff is exceptional at what they do, both on and off the field. They helped me grow as a player and made me realize my full potential. They expected nothing but the best from me, and as much of a struggle it was, I would not have accomplished everything I did at SPU without them or my team.”

Playing collegiately in Seattle also gave Lindsay an opportunity to get a taste of what could be waiting for her following graduation, playing for the W-League’s Seattle Sounder’s women, but saw limited time last summer with the surprising presence of US National Team standouts in the fold.

“I have loved playing with the Sounders these past two years. It has given me such a higher level of soccer to play at, and I made some really good, talented friends because of it,” she said of the experience.

“The one thing I have learned from playing with the Sounders is that I can always challenge myself by competing at the next level. I may not always be comfortable at it, but that is how I learn. Even though it was frustrating and physically demanding, I have no regrets playing with the Sounders. It was another opportunity that helped me grow as a soccer player, and experience what playing for a professional [quality] team was like. If I start getting comfortable with the level I play at, it’s a bad sign, because I'm not challenging myself anymore.”

Staying in Seattle for summers essentially made the Emerald City her second home, especially considering the Gonzaga Prep alum came to SPU having played a significant amount of her youth club career in neighboring Tacoma.

“Spokane's soccer scene has gotten bigger since I left, but during high school I played for Washington Premier in Tacoma. My parents were huge contributors for making this possible. Basically every weekend in the spring was spent driving over to Seattle to play soccer. It was amazing to think my parents were able to do that for me, because they sacrificed so many weekends devoted to my club. I would have never been able to go to showcase tournaments or be exposed to the amount of college coaches without that.

“I had a very unique path I took to play college ball. The only high school I wanted to go to was Gonzaga Prep, because their girl’s soccer team was the best of the best. The community at Prep was so supportive of my success in soccer. The school has made a big impression on me, and I often go back to see my old teachers. In addition, Prep also helped me prepare for college classes and develop spiritual growth in Christ. “

Spending so much time away from Spokane and her family the past few years may have arguably made the decision to move even further to Europe easier on those close to her, but her sister Shannon’s first thoughts were of her pride in Megan’s opportunities and accomplishments.

“I am very, very excited for her to go experience soccer at the next level. She has worked so very hard her entire life for this opportunity, and I can't imagine someone who deserves it more,” said Shannon. “She has worked hard, on and off the soccer field, which led to her development as a player.

“I knew deep down that the collegiate level would never be enough for her. She has always had ambitions to go to the next level, and she has been blessed with this opportunity. Of course it will not be easy to say goodbye, but when you realize how deserving she is of this new chapter in her life, encouragement is all I can find in my heart.”

Shannon, who was a regular presence on the WPSL Spokane Shine’s back line this past summer, is finding success of her own as well now at the University of Montana, where she helped lead the Grizzlies to a share of the regular season Big Sky title and took fellow co-champ Idaho State to penalties before falling in the conference final.

Not surprising when it comes to siblings, Shannon is the opposite of her sister on the field, playing defense.

Shannon Lindsay with UM, Shine | photos: Gerald Barnhart
“Honestly, as much as I would like to take partial credit for her success, she has accomplished all of it by herself,” Megan said of her younger sister’s burgeoning career. “The only times we played together were in high school, and I know that we both played hard against each other. We both are very competitive by nature, so we both don't want to lose whenever we played against each other. But, I can say that Shannon has always been an amazing defender, with or without me. She has made such an impact on UM's soccer team ever since her freshman year there, and has made a similar one for the Shine. I loved playing with her, and as competitive as I am, I will always love my baby sister.”

Shannon, meanwhile, enjoyed seeing her hard work rewarded by her sister’s success.

“I have numerous memories of Megan and I playing soccer together. We played Falcons and high school together and this is where it all began. I was always a defender and she was always playing up front,” said Shannon. “I was always proud to call her my sister, because I knew all my hard work of keeping goals out of the back of our net would be repaid by her hard work of putting a few in the back of the opponent's net.

“There was nothing Megan could not achieve; she was always the one that we count on. I was very blessed to play defense on her team, rather than on the other team. Chances are, I would have been beat 9 out of 10 times.”