Zero to Hero

Beastmode (noun, adjective): Mode into which you switch when doing hardcore activities; exhibiting beast-like characteristics.

No other player demonstrates the ability to go “beastmode” better than Rachel Eckerlin PZ ’12. A super senior at Pitzer College, Rachel “Old Maid” Ecks is a force to be reckoned with on the field. Luckily, she’s on our side. A two-year captain for the Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team, an All-SCIAC honoree, and an NCAA All-Region award recipient, Eckerlin has led the Sagehens to a 10-6-1 record and No. 7 ranking in the West Region by the NCAA this season.

With such a remarkable finish to her collegiate career, it’s hard to imagine Eckerlin did not even make the team her first year.

“I was pretty bitter [after being cut],” Eckerlin admitted. “[I wanted] to prove to Coach she had made a mistake.”

But Eckerlin’s passion for soccer motivated her to train hard that year to make the team as a sophomore.

“Soccer has always been a huge part of my life, and I wasn’t ready to give it up yet,” Eckerlin explained. “It sounds corny, but I really love everything about the sport: the physicality, athleticism, skill, and camaraderie. I’m so grateful I was cut. Instead of sitting on the bench that year I was given the chance to play a fifth year where I was actually able to contribute on the field.”

It’s exactly that determination that, according to coach Jennifer Scanlon, has made Eckerlin an “irreplaceable” player for the Sagehens.

“I have the utmost respect for her work ethic, her heart, and her drive. And if we had to point to one thing that helped get the women’s soccer program back on track, it would be Rachel,” Scanlon said. “She is all-business when it comes to soccer, and she was willing to put her time and energy into doing the work.

“That mindset rubbed off on others the last couple of years, and I know she inspired a lot of people to meet her standards. In the end, our program would not be where it is right now without Rachel doing what she has done the last four years. Amongst the members of the soccer team, Rachel is known for her intensity and dedication on the field.”

Eckerlin’s teammates appreciate her work ethic as well.

“She is super dedicated to our team and works so hard every single day and is an amazing leader and teammate,” Martha Marich PO ’12 gushed. “She inspires everybody on our team to do better and cares more about PPWS than anybody I know.”

Sometimes this intensity can scare off the first-year players. Nicole “Quill” Quilliam PO ’15 admits to being a little intimidated by the super senior’s Old Maid ways. However, after witnessing Rachel’s love for cute and cuddly animals and hearing her “awesomely funny pump up speeches,” Quill knew Eckerlin was a “chiller.”

Eckerlin credits her athletic successes to daily three-hour naps on her hammock, an art form she learned from the certified nap master Jordan Bryant PO ’13. In addition, she recommends a post-game cool down on the Pub dance floor.

“PPWS really isn’t much without a weekly Pub venture. How else would we stay adequately hydrated? Not to mention there’s no better way to stretch out sore legs than to boogie on the dance floor,” Eckerlin said.

Such kernels of wisdom will be sorely missed as Great Auntie Eckerlin continues on her merry way to pursue higher education in zoology.

“[You] betcha I’m doing zoology. All I want to do post-graduation is play with wild animals. Preferably ones that I can cuddle with,” Eckerlin proclaimed.

Someday, when she’s cuddling with her animal colleagues, Eckerlin will surely daydream of her fond memories with the P-P soccer team and wish whatever furry creature she’s with were actually a Sagehen, preferably one dressed for the annual “Free Dress Day” practice, which she cites as the fondest memory of her four years.

“There really is nothing funnier than seeing people in du-rags, butterfly wings, and capes playing soccer.”

The Sagehens’ appreciation for Eckerlin’s leadership can be summed up by penguin fanatic and goalkeeper Emma Wolfarth PO ’14.

“While I’m really jealous that Rachel will probably get to play with penguins some day, [but] I’m really more jealous of the penguin that gets to play with Rachel,” Wolfarth said after showing off her penguin phone cover and penguin necklace.

Although the P-P women’s soccer team, coaches, and fans will clearly miss Eckerlin, her four years of dedication and hard work have left a mark on the program and laid the foundation for the Sagehens’ future success next season and beyond.

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