Defense is game for Heidi Wild
Heidi Wild is a magician.
With a twirl of her skates or a feign on the grass, the Glenwood Springs High School junior converts the hum-drum chore of playing defense to a glamourous position.
Most kids opt to play offense because they like to score. But Wild, at 5 foot six, focused on defense to avoid getting knocked around.
Wild performs her magic as a soccer and hockey player with equal skill.
As a member of the Glenwood Grizzlies midget hockey team, Wild plays a key role in stopping pucks as a defenseman – make that defense person.
In soccer, Wild has been the starting sweeper for the high school’s team the past two seasons.
The position of sweeper is important. The player has to be able to hustle back defensively to make a play on the opposing team, and have the ball-handling skills to rekindle her own team’s offense.
“Heidi’s a little small for a central defender,” explained Glenwood soccer coach Steve White. “But, she’s good for the position because she doesn’t break down when there’s pressure on that side of the field.”
“The composure she has on the ball is as best and I’ve ever seen,” White said.
Last year, as a sophomore, Wild played the sweeper position so effectively, the Western Slope League soccer coaches voted her league Player of the Year.
“I never expected it at all. I thought it would be one of my teammates – not me.” said Wild.
Quite a transition from the second grader who only wanted to play the game just to wear a uniform.
After taking up soccer, the sport became her passion.
“I love soccer. I would drop everything to play it,” she said.
Wild said her high school teammates make the game fun.
“Our team is so structured and we get along so well and we all play together so well. It’s so much fun to get out on the field during a game and play with each other, because we trust each other.”
Wild’s hockey career took longer to develop.
Wild said she played the sport with her older brothers as a youngster growing up in Evergreen, but never played an organized game until the Glenwood Community Center ice rink was built.
“I moved here in 8th grade and there wasn’t an ice rink, so I didn’t skate for two years,” Wild recalled. “As soon as the rink went up, I said `Boom, I’m playing hockey.’
“I got a job at the rink and started skating again, and it came back.” she said.
But playing organized hockey scared her at first.
“I never played organized hockey before. I just played pond hockey. Also, the hockey team was open for boys. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I took it as a personal challenge. I said `I’m going to do this, I’m going to play.’ So I just stuck with it.
By sticking to her challenge, Wild earned the team’s respect.
“Heidi’s work ethic is second-to-none. She’s at the rink all the time and just won’t stop until she gets something right,” said hockey coach Tim Cota.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself too much, Wild said. You never know what’s going to happen. If I get a scholarship and play in college, great. If I don’t that’s ok, there’s always club teams.
“It’s just a sport. I have to keep that in my mind. “No matter what, it’s just a sport.”
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