UW Women's Soccer
UW's devoted soccer mom
Seattle Times staff
Above all the crowd noise at Washington women's soccer games, Tina Frimpong can always pick out the voice of one fan.
"Go, Mommy! Go, Mommy! Score a goal!"
There's no mistaking the voice of Frimpong's No. 1 fan, 2-1/2-year-old MacKenzie, no matter where her daughter is in the bleachers or whose lap she is sitting on.
"When I'm playing, I can hear her," Tina Frimpong says.
The junior at UW balances school, soccer and motherhood. On the field, the speedy 5-foot-9 forward leads the Huskies (2-1-1) with three goals in their first four games. In the classroom, she's working toward an economics degree. The rest of the time, she's just trying to be the best mom she can be.
"Having MacKenzie totally motivates me a lot more, because the time I'm spending away from her is time I want to be worthwhile," Frimpong said. "So if I'm going to take a test, I make sure I do my best. I want the best for her, so working hard and all these things are for her. She really drives me to be the best I can be in everything."
Frimpong had just graduated from Hudson's Bay High School in Vancouver when she learned she was pregnant. The three-sport athlete, who also excelled in track and basketball, was on her way to Santa Clara on a soccer scholarship. But the pregnancy made, playing soccer — let alone moving to California — out of the question.
Frimpong went to Clark Community College for a year, then placed a call to UW coach Lesle Gallimore, who had recruited her out of high school, to ask if she was still interested.
"I told her I was angry at her, because she hadn't called me since deciding to go to Santa Clara," Gallimore recalled. "Then I laughed and told her I'd love to have her on my team. Clearly, it's worked out great for us."
After giving birth in March 2001, Frimpong joined the Huskies that fall. She immediately felt the effects of her hiatus. Her numbers didn't reflect it — Frimpong scored 14 goals over two seasons — but it has taken her two years to get back on track.
"Taking a year off and then coming into college soccer is not easy," she said. "It was a huge shock. I was like, 'Oh, my gosh. The game is a lot faster.' "
Frimpong, who scored eight goals in six games for the Seattle Sounders Women this summer, believes her game is finally coming together, a scary thought for the rest of the Pac-10.
"I feel like I'm back to where I used to be, and now I'm playing like I used to," Frimpong said. "I feel like I've started out a lot stronger (this year) from working hard during the summer. I'm starting to get used to playing college soccer."
Soccer is the Frimpong family's sport of choice. Joe Frimpong, Tina's father, played in his homeland of Ghana and at Southern Oregon in Ashland, Ore. He now coaches in the Premier League in Vancouver, Wash. Her twin sister, Crystal, is a senior midfielder at Florida.
Humble doesn't begin to describe Frimpong. Any conversation about soccer becomes a discussion of her 25th-ranked team. But relying on a team isn't reserved for the field for the 21-year-old. It's how she gets through every day.
Her boyfriend, Brad, who is MacKenzie's father, lives in the same apartment complex and shares child-care duties. When MacKenzie is not with a parent, she's in day care or with one of a small army of willing baby-sitters that includes coaches, teammates, family and friends.
"I don't know what I would do without them," Frimpong says. "Everyone is overly helpful."
One of those baby-sitters is Melissa Bennett, Tina's roommate and a senior forward for the Huskies. Melissa — or "Belissa," as MacKenzie calls her — also has a connection with Tina Frimpong on the field. Just like it was when Frimpong played with Crystal from age 6 through high school.
"We had a knack for finding each other (on the field), like we didn't need to communicate," Tina says of her sister. "She would just find me somehow. What's odd is that Melissa has taken that place on this team as, like, my sister. She's the one who just knows how to find me. We don't even need to talk or say anything."
Similar to how Tina and MacKenzie connect. Above all the noise, in any crowd, MacKenzie's mommy can always find her.
Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company