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University of Maine Women’s Soccer Squad - Lisa Bijman

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Success Beyond the Soccer Field
Womens_soccer_largeLisa Bijman: Consistently excellent

Scott Atherley, University of Maine women’s soccer coach, says senior captain Lisa Bijman of Brantford, Ontario, is one of the toughest players — mentally and physically — he has ever coached.

This fall, Bijman’s tenacity helped the Black Bears advance to the semifinal round of the America East Championship for the second consecutive season. In the contest, Stony Brook edged UMaine on penalty kicks after the teams were knotted 1–1 after two overtimes. The Black Bears finished 9–5–5.

“The thing that impresses me most about her is her consistency,” Atherley says. “Regardless of the circumstances, she always manages to perform at a high level. She is someone that we could always rely on to come through regardless of the challenge. Someday, Lisa is going to practice medicine. Jokingly, I said to her at one point this year that if I am ever lying on an operating table and my life has to be in the hands of another person, I want it to be her with scalpel in hand.”

The kinesiology and physical education major with pre-med and chemistry minors, has earned a multitude of athletic and academic honors. She is a Maine Scholar-Athlete Award winner and made the America East Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll and the America East All-Academic Team.

The America East First Team member was selected for the AE All-Rookie Team as a first-year student and she earned a spot on the America East All-Tournament Team in her junior and senior campaigns. The midfielder scored the tying goal of the last game of her UMaine career.

Bijman is one of five seniors on the University of Maine women’s soccer team who attained considerable success in the classroom and on the field in 2013. The scholar-athletes have a combined grade-point average of 3.73 and led the squad to the America East semifinal round.

“The success of our senior class extends far beyond the soccer field,” says Scott Atherley, UMaine women’s soccer coach. “Individually and collectively, they personify the true meaning of student-athlete. The attributes that make them successful on the field are the same ones that have enabled them to excel in the classroom and vice versa. They are all bright, ambitious, disciplined, committed and industrious.

“For the better part of four years, they have served as the standard of excellence that has become synonymous with our program, on and off of the field,” says the 15-year coach.

“The qualities that they possess as student-athletes are rivaled only by the richness of their character. You would be hard-pressed to find a better group of human beings. We will miss them dearly, but forever remember the significance of their contributions.”

Three of the four years the seniors competed, the squad made it at least as far as the semifinal round of the league playoffs. A year ago, Stony Brook knocked the Black Bears out of contention, topping them 2–1 in an AE semifinal. In 2010, when the Black Bears were first-year players, Boston University bested them 4–0 for the league crown.

Bijman shares her experience about what it’s been like to be a member of the UMaine women’s soccer team and university community.

Age: 20
Hometown: Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Course(s) of undergraduate study: Kinesiology and physical education, exercise science major with pre-medical studies and chemistry minors
GPA: 3.96
Soccer Position(s): Midfield

Team goals for 2013: Compete for America East Championship. Stay united as a team no matter what the outcome.

When and why did you begin playing soccer?
I began playing soccer at the age of 3 for city leagues. I was following in the footsteps of my older brothers and my dad.

Do you have role models?
My older brother, Michael. He is an amazing person with passion and energy and is always willing to do extra work for someone else even if it doesn’t benefit him. He is positive and always available to help. He inspires me to be better in many areas of my life.

What are your hobbies and interests?
I played basketball and volleyball for all four years of high school. I also enjoy playing squash and doing yoga.

Why did you choose UMaine?
I chose to attend UMaine because of the ladies on the team, the coach and the atmosphere of the school. It was the right fit for me.

How do you balance academics, sports and other activities?
I think the most important quality is prioritizing your time. It is important to look ahead in your schedule when it comes to tests, traveling with the team and games. However, it is also always important to put in time to see friends and talk to your family. So forecasting what a week is going to look like can save you a lot of stress later on.

Has playing a sport shaped your study habits?
I would not say that playing a sport has affected my GPA (3.96) and study habits because throughout high school and my early years in college I learned the study tendencies that work for me and what leads me to success. I am aware of how much time I need to put into a paper or studying for a test and I plan that time accordingly around my practice and game schedule. Of course, at times it is difficult, because you are returning home from a game at 2 a.m. and have to attend all of your classes and maybe even write a test the next day. But that is the importance of early planning.

What are some favorite soccer moments?
My senior day was one of my favorite days of being on the soccer team. Even though we didn’t come out with the win, our team played one of the best games I’ve seen, all while having an absolute blast. Another great moment was this summer during our “America East Fitness Challenge.” We were all split into teams and had various challenges throughout the week. These included tire flips, tug of war, 100-meter relay, sled pushes, pushup challenge and more. Even though it was difficult throughout it all, it was so much fun to participate in and such a great team atmosphere and push ourselves to the limit.

What was it like to play for the AE title and host a semifinal?
Playing in the AE title game freshman year was a wonderful experience. At that time, I didn’t understand how fortunate we were for that opportunity. The AE semifinal game at home my junior year was an even better experience. With all of our family and friends supporting us, it was a blast to play in and enjoy the game that we all love. Even though we didn’t come out on top, it was still such a memorable experience.

What’s your favorite part of being a student-athlete at UMaine?
My favorite part of being a student-athlete here at UMaine is being part of a family and being included in such a special group of people. You grow and learn from the members on your team, from the coaching staff, from the athletic training staff and from other student-athletes. We are all here to compete for the sport that we love and are all willing to do whatever it takes to win that championship. It is an unforgettable experience.

How has playing soccer impacted you as a person?
Playing soccer has taught me about what I am capable of and how that there are few barriers that are going to stop me. Soccer has shown me that you get out of it what you put in. If you work at something every single day, you will be happy with the results. If you set your mind to do something, you will accomplish that goal. It is going to be difficult and you are going to get knocked down, over and over again. But you learn how to get back up and keep competing because you deserve it and have worked so hard for it. Soccer has taught me about leadership, teamwork, time management, commitment, cohesiveness and about being resilient, no matter what.

Why has this senior group had such success on and off the field?
Our senior class is a family and a group of girls that truly respect and care about each other. We are there for each other and understand how to communicate with each other and with the rest of the team. We are all driven and hard-working ladies who want what is best for others and are willing to put in the effort to do that for our team. We have sacrificed so much but have stayed united through everything.

What advice would you give a student-athlete considering UMaine?
I would tell them to do their research. UMaine is an amazing school with amazing people, but understand that as a soccer team we are often at a disadvantage when it comes to traveling and our facilities. This is only a barrier but it doesn’t stop us from being any less competitive than any other team. If UMaine is the right fit for you then go for it because you will not regret it.

What are your post-graduation plans?
I will be taking this next year off to travel, work, rewrite my MCATs and be with my family. After that year, I have aspirations of going to medical school back in Canada and become a doctor.

How did you choose your course of study and why are you interested in becoming a doctor?
I have a passion for learning, helping others, and studying the human body. I would like to continue doing all three of these things for as long as I can. Being a doctor is how I can fulfill these ambitions. This has led me to earn a degree in kinesiology because this major gives me the opportunity to learn about the human body in regards to movement and anatomy. I chose to do a pre-med minor to fulfill prerequisites for medical schools. And I chose to do a chemistry minor because I enjoy that area of science and am interested in learning as much as I can.

Anything you would like to add?
I would like to say thank you to my parents, my teammates, the coaching staff, the athletic training team, the academic support staff and to my friends who have helped make my UMaine soccer experience one of the most memorable and amazing experiences of my life. I am so grateful that I chose to go to UMaine.

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