After a lengthy Tuesday evening practice, senior forward Gabbi Cottee dipped into an icy bathtub with several of her teammates. Cottee hung around a few minutes, engaging in light-hearted conversation. It is her responsibility as a senior to help create team unity.
Cottee said winning is important, and she works hard to maintain a healthy team dynamic. There are nine freshmen in the club, and Cottee utilizes her experience to guide them in the right direction.
“I consider myself a vocal leader,” Cottee said. “I talk really easily. I wouldn’t say I’m bossy. I like to talk and narrate everything, and it helps from a leadership aspect. When you’re the oldest, everyone looks to you because you’ve been there the longest.”
Cottee scored two goals in her first three seasons. Cottee has matched that total this year with a goal in the victory over Prairie View A&M and one in the win against Northwestern State. Cottee is a three-time District 14-5A first-team selection and four-year letter winner at McNeil High School, but she received little playing time at Texas State in her first few seasons.
“Coming from a high school where you do really well, you get humbled really quickly when you come here,” Cottee said. “You can be a big fish in a little pond, but when you come here, you are no longer the big fish. It’s really important to work (your) hardest, no matter what level you’re at.”
Cottee converted to defender at the request of Coach Kat Conner, despite playing forward her entire life. Cottee chipped in 61 goals and 26 assists at McNeil in four years and received the District Offensive MVP award in 2008.
“I freaked out,” Cottee said. “I had a panic attack. I’ve never played defender, and I don’t know how to play defender. How am I supposed to defend these girls that are amazing scorers and amazing attackers?”
Cottee said being a forward was helpful in her transition to defense because she is able to predict what her opponent may do.
“It makes it a little easier to defend because offense is about being creative,” Cottee said. “If you can think of what they might be doing, then you’re that much closer to catching them.”
Cottee has played in each game this season, logging 329 minutes. She is a full-time forward again, and she has seized the opportunity.
“I have a little more opportunity. I’ve worked my way up,” Cottee said. “My mindset is where it needs to be. Now that I’m focused on attacking, it’s a lot easier to recognize my role and what I need to be doing on the field. I see myself as the person who is supposed to score. I need to make things happen.”
Cottee does not only contribute her gameplay to the team, she wants to be a fixture in her teammate’s lives.
“She’s very knowledgeable,” said senior midfielder Sydney Curry. “She’s very open. She is everything. She can be the tough when you need someone to whip you in shape, and she’s also a great person to build your confidence.”
Curry said Cottee is multi-dimensional as a teammate and friend. She said Cottee is always there for any teammate, and it is “easy to trust her and count on her.”
Cottee, a communication studies major, will pursue job opportunities in the public relations field next spring. Her career path is clear, though it does not make leaving the Texas State soccer program easier.
“It’s scary knowing that I’ll never play soccer at this level again,” Cottee said. “What do you even do after this?”
Follow Quixem Ramirez on Twitter: @quixem