Back in February, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Women's Soccer Head Coach Nichole Ridenour announced the addition of five National Letters-of-Intent student-athletes for 2015.
But that didn't mean her stockpiling was 100 percent sufficient.
And as a result, graduated Bayfield standout Andrea Zelinski will be following in older sister-and longtime BHS boss-Jennifer Zelinski's NCAA Division II footsteps, while also making her own unique tracks.
"She is a recruited walk-on.this coming fall," Ridenour clarified in an e-mailed statement, "and will be on roster for the UCCS Women's Soccer team. As of now we see her as a central player for us but no defined position. It all depends on how she comes in and what is needed."
A 6-11 overall (5-9 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) record in 2014 would indicate "what is needed" is, in a nutshell, anything and everything Zelinski and her fellow incoming freshmen can offer a program looking to regain its 2012 form. That's when UCCS first became nationally ranked, as high as #11 after a school-record six-match winning streak starting the season.
That fall, UC-Colorado Springs finished 13-4-2 overall-the first winning season in team history.
Sibling of a former Fort Lewis College defender, Andrea Zelinski quickly became accustomed to success at Bayfield; the Wolverines went 49-13-3 overall and 40-5-3 in 3A/2A Southwestern League action-yielding BHS' first-ever pair of SWL titles and two runner-up results-during her four years, and reached the CHSAA Class 3A State Tournament after each.
"We saw Andrea play in the 2014 playoff hosted in Colorado Springs," Ridenour recalled. "Bayfield lost the match (6-0 to Manitou Springs) but she stood out to me because of her mentality to never give up, her work ethic on the field (though not in top soccer shape) and her attitude in driving the team to work and not accepting defeat."
"She wasn't happy-in fact, stewed on the loss-after the match when the rest of her teammates were already joking around. There is more to be said about a player who not only wants to win, but expects to."
The Mountain Lions' search for victory right away in 2015 won't require much travel. UCCS welcomes Texas A&M International at 7 p.m. on Sept. 3, Texas A&M-Commerce then visit on the 5th at 1 p.m., and the homestand continues on the 11th against Midwestern (Tex.) State and the 13th versus Colorado Christian University.
All told, at press time UC-Colorado Springs' slate starts with seven home dates, the last three-against Regis University, Metro State University of Denver, Western State Colorado University-getting RMAC work underway by the 23rd. UCCS broke an even 4-4 protecting Mountain Lion Stadium during 2014.
"Being from a smaller town and.a multi-sport athlete has given her a leg up to be versatile enough for us," said Ridenour, "and to push herself, with Jen's help, to show us through our camps that she is driven to succeed and coachable."
CUT FROM SIMILAR CLOTH: Ridenour and Jennifer Zelinski were once active simultaneously in the semipro Women's Premier Soccer League, though each may not have known the other as more than an opposing uniform and post-match handshake during their respective teams' existences.
Zelinski played with Albuquerque, N.M., Lady Asylum during their maiden 2007 campaign, while Ridenour was with Colorado Springs United (known as CS Sabers in '06, when Asylum was initially founded). Both squads were members of the WPSL's Southern Conference-Southwest Division in '07 and its Big Sky Conference-North in '08, but unfortunately neither Unite nor Asylum returned to the expansive league for 2009.