Heintschel leads team on, off field as finalist for Senior CLASS Award
Those familiar with Ball State soccer may know Alyssa Heintschel as the senior goalkeeper and captain of the team. What they may not be as familiar with is her excellence inside the classroom.
Heintschel was recently named one of 10 finalists for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award for NCAA women’s soccer. The award focuses on all aspects of being a student-athlete, along with achievements in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition.
The Oregon, Ohio native maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA as a chemistry, pre-med major and was awarded for her performance with an Academic All-America selection in 2016. She feels she has a standard to uphold in the classroom, both on the field and as a person.
“As a senior and as a captain I feel like I have a responsibility to maintain high standards in the classroom, in terms of character and on the field,” Heintschel said. “I know that the younger girls look up to me and I know that I’m kind of a role model for them, so I want to make sure that I’m always doing my best, giving 100 percent and taking care of things in all areas so that they have a good role model to look up to.”
Heintschel’s hard work has paid off since the beginning of her time at Ball State. When her senior year ends, she’ll be able to find herself all over the Ball State goalkeeping record books. She was named All-MAC First Team in 2015 and 2016, ranks second in school history in shutouts (21), fourth in saves (175), first in goals against average (.76), third in minutes played and is tied for first in wins (34).
That list only accounts for her on the field accolades.
Off the field, Heintschel was selected as a Mid-American Conference Distinguished Scholar Athlete in 2016, named Academic All-MAC in 2015 and 2016, named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Region Second Team and Scholar All-Region Second Team and was twice named to a College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District team in 2015 (Second Team) and 2016 (First Team).
“It gets hard sometimes, especially weeks where we leave on a Wednesday morning and don’t get back until Sunday night,” Heintschel said. “We’re missing a lot of class so you have to prioritize and stay on top of things. I tell people when we’re in season it’s a little bit easier because you have your daily schedule, you wake up, go to class, go to practice, come home, eat dinner, do your homework, go to bed and do it all again the next day. It makes you stay on top of things and helps keep you organized. In season is still tough because there’s not a lot of down time.”
For Heintschel, the grind is constant and can get overwhelming at times, but her end goal is what keeps her going. Her plan is to get into medical school within the next year, so she seeing her time and dedication pay off. She also realizes her time on the soccer field is nearing an end and putting in the extra work is crucial at this point in the season.
“It’s going to end sometime soon, so for me it’s thinking ‘You only have so much time left so really there’s no excuse to not put your all into it at this point,’” Heintschel said.
Heintschel didn’t hesitate to credit the support system at Ball State. From her teammates to coaches, everyone is always there to help her and understand when she might have to sacrifice a little bit of time at practice for school.
“They’re all very understanding of when situations arise where I have to be late for practice because I have a class that runs into our practice time or I can’t stay after practice to work on extra stuff because I have a big test coming up the next day,” Heintschel said. “They know how important my academic studies are to me so being in an environment where our coaches encourage academic excellence helps. I couldn’t ask for better, it’s really helpful in making sure I have the best chance to be successful here.”
Having a player like Heintschel who gets the job done on and off the field makes a coaches life much easier. Head coach Craig Roberts didn’t understate how he feels about the type of value a player like Heintschel brings to the team.
“I’m immensely proud, she’s a great person to be around and the fact that she’s a tremendous goalkeeper as well is just the icing on the cake,” Roberts said. “Sometimes, in this profession you get to be around an individual and coach an individual, I’m the lucky one to get to coach to get to coach her during the four years that she’s been here. She’s been an absolute delight.”
Being a goalkeeper requires great intuition and quick analysis of situations, and Roberts said those are some traits, along with her leadership, that he noticed in Heintschel as early as her freshman year.
“She would analyze situations, whether in-game or personal, and just make very good intuitive decisions without disrespecting or upsetting anybody else,” Roberts said. “It was always a very good response from her which affects the unison of the team. By her communicating effectively and pointing out observations just enhances the whole comradery of the team. You’re always looking for a person who leads by example, you can’t flaw her.”
Fan voting for the Senior CLASS Award is open through Nov. 20. Fan votes account for a third of the total award determination, while the rest is decided by NCAA Division I coaches and national media members.
Contact Nate Fields with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.