Grambling State University women’s soccer received their first ever regular season championship rings on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019.
During the 2018 season, the Lady Tigers went 901 minutes without conceding a goal, which contributed to the team finishing in the top 10 nationally for most shutouts on the year.
They accomplished this by ensuring they recovered a lost ball as quickly and aggressively as possible.
“The teaching of head coach, Justin Wagar, of ‘five seconds of hell’,” Graduate Assistant Coach Jazmyne Lewis said. “Having girls that were willing to battle and sacrifice for their team was really significant to not giving up a goal.”
The team endured many difficult games and challenges on the field, getting fouled 236 times in the year. Battling and fighting through injuries and tough times is a major contributor to how incredible the season was.
Going into the 2018 playoffs Grambling was the underdog. They were the number one seed, but to many people the Lady Tigers were still seen as less than what they were capable of.
“For many years Grambling was picked at the bottom and to actually come out on top was huge, it showed the hard work and dedication that the ladies put in,” Lewis said.
Coach David Ponton, GSU athletic director, opened the ring ceremony congratulating the team and everyone that was a part of it. He talked about the relentlessness of the team and the coaching staff to go out and battle every single game. He also spoke on the memories that were created during the 2018 season.
“We went through hell and back for these rings,” Jordyn King, a sophomore, said. “Very hard fitness days and long practices, but even though we had our differences off the field, on the field we worked hard for each other at the end of the day.”
The Lady Tigers spent late weeknights in the stadium practicing, early Saturday mornings on the field practicing, traveled for hours to get to games, and ran for many hours each week to become successful.
“The rings are a reward for all the sacrifices and hard work endured,” Catherine Conn, a senior, said. “It shows me that it was worth it to miss out on the late-night gatherings and time spent with friends. It made the early weekend mornings where I wanted to sleep in and just lay in bed worth it,” Conn said.
The 2018 season was one for the record books both nationally and locally.
It brought the community together and gave the Gambling family something incredible to talk about.
“This is something I’ll never forget,” King said.
The ring ceremony was held three days before the 2019 playoffs as a way to give the young and new players a little boost before playoffs and to show them that if they work hard and fight every time they step onto the field, they can get a ring of their own.
“I want all of us to go home with something that’s memorable because we worked hard for ourselves and we worked hard for each other,” Kameron Powell, a senior, said.
“That’s what it’s going to take for us to get another ring.”
The number five ranked Lady Tigers travel to Prairie View University later this week to compete in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament.
They will play number four seeded Alabama A&M in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.
The game will be live streamed on the SWAC Digital Network.