Bend it like Beckett
3 years ago
Esteban BustillosManaging Editor
Yang XiStaff Photographer
Senior forward leads Comets in goals and points, uses relationship with military brother to inspire play on field
Despite having a career-defining season on the women’s soccer team, Carli Beckett is less focused on her personal ambitions and more concerned about the success and future of her teammates.
Beckett, a healthcare studies senior and team captain, currently leads the team in points, goals, game-winning goals, assists and shots on goal.
“She just has a nose for the goal,” said assistant coach Sterling Mueller. “It’s a more difficult quality to possess than you think, just to see a goal opportunity to develop and get that shot off. She sees goals from places I don’t think many people, regardless of level — DI, DII, DIII — see.”
Beckett’s 12 scores currently rank second in the conference. She also leads the ASC in game-winning goals.
Even though she has had a slew of recent success, Beckett said it took her a while to get acclimated to the collegiate game when she first started.
“It’s funny what you learn in four years,” Beckett said. “I was a completely different player my freshman year. At the time, I was still getting a lot of playing time, but it’s just different. You learn a lot in the four years.”
However, her personal performance isn’t the most important thing to her, Beckett said.
“It’s all about the team,” she said. “Those stats don’t exist without your team. So there’s an assist behind all of those goals. Three people before me worked their butt off to get the ball up there. It’s cool that those (stats) exist, but my main focus is the team and winning and getting the result we want.”
Beckett has made it a point to focus on the team’s success over her own. She said the thought of awards like Player of the Year for the conference hasn’t even crossed her mind.
Head coach Kanute Drugan hasn’t heard Beckett state an objective she has that focuses only on her, he said. She has, however, been very vocal about her goals for the team.
“She’s been very clear that she wants to be a conference champion. She’s been very clear she wants to win a postseason tournament. She’s been very clear she wants to experience the NCAA tournament,” Drugan said. “That has been consistent from the day I arrived.”
Beckett, who grew up playing soccer with her twin brother, Austin, said her sibling rivalry has helped drive her will to win, even to this day.
She first started playing the game when Austin joined a team, and she wanted to join in. Her first experience of life on the pitch was playing with a squad of boys, who, Beckett said, she was able to keep up with.
The two siblings, who played on opposite ends of the field, would often be each other’s biggest opponent.
“Anything we did was a competition,” Beckett said. “We’d wrestle. We’d race. We’d see who could score more goals. Everything we did was a competition with each other.”
When they started to become more serious about the game, colleges began scouting the siblings and tried to convince them to play at their schools. Even though she had offers from several Division I schools, Beckett, who went to high school in Round Rock, chose to stay close to home and attend UTD.
Austin, on the other hand, chose to play goalie at Concordia. But, after about a semester, he had another calling.
“I just saw a brighter future for myself in the military,” Austin said. “I saw guys in uniform and just wanted to wear that instead.”
The family was supportive of the decision, Beckett said, even though they were worried at times.
Austin, who is currently a Specialist in the Army, was recently deployed for six months in Afghanistan. It was an experience Beckett didn’t think she would encounter.
“We’ve been asked what motivates us,” she said. “More than ever, this year, it was my brother and knowing that he’s out there fighting so that we can play every single day … I just want to play for him because he can’t.”
Beckett and Austin communicated while he was in Afghanistan through Skype, Facebook or phone call at least once or twice a week.
Due to his commitments in the military, Austin has not been able to see many of Beckett’s games, which he considers a major downside of his job. He is forced to keep up with her progress by checking her stats online.
“I remember the first time that I did that in her first game, and she scored; it was very emotional,” he said. “Even till now, I’m praying that I’ll be able to see her play, but I’m not going to be home any time soon. It still sucks because that’s the only thing that I can do.”
While his whole family has been a motivation to him, Austin said, his sister and the work she has done on the field have been particularly inspiring.
“I can never picture myself not trying hard when she’s working her ass off to do what she does,” he said. “The fact that she works her ass off, and she’s playing soccer and getting good grades; it keeps me going.”
Beckett, who wants to be a doctor, said she feels like she is leaving at a time when the program is very strong.
Even with nine seniors, including Beckett, leaving the team after this year, she believes the team will continue to be successful.
“After three years, it’s cool to see how the program has changed,” she said. “I’m leaving really feeling like it’s heading in a good direction. It’s going to be so awesome to watch the girls and support them throughout the years and know that they’re in such good hands. I think as a senior, that is one thing that I’m just really, really happy about.”