Kelly Roethe - Leading by Example, a Standard of Excellence for Marquette Women's Soccer
Oct. 5, 2006
Kelly Roethe started a tradition of excellence the moment she walked on the Marquette campus, a tradition that is alive and well within athletics and women's soccer. Roethe led by example, an example of greatness both on and off the field, one that today's Golden Eagles still follow. Her career at Marquette began as a wide-eyed freshman midfielder looking to make an impact. Helping the Golden Eagles soar to unprecedented heights, the impact Roethe has had on Marquette soccer cannot be measured because it continues to live on every season.
On Friday, Oct. 6, Roethe will become the first women's soccer player in Marquette soccer history and the third women in the history of the athletics program to have her jersey number retired prior to kick-off. A banner with her number 12 will hang on the eastside of Valley Fields; the very site Roethe began her legacy.
"It is only appropriate to honor Kelly with the retirement of her jersey, said women's soccer head coach Markus Roeders. "She exemplifies the very best when it comes to players who have worn a Marquette jersey. Our program has been blessed with so many wonderful people and players; Kelly is at the top for all she contributed during her four years."
In 1996, Roethe's freshman season, the Golden Eagles stormed out to their best start in their young program winning five of their first six games and going on to set a program record 16 wins. Marquette registered and an 8-3 Conference USA record en route to the C-USA Co-Championship. Roethe was so to say "en fuego" as a rookie nailing a single season best 13 goals. She added seven assists that season for a team high 33 points. For her performance, Roethe was named freshman of the year by C-USA as well as an All-Conference USA First Team selection, freshman team selection and was named to the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Second Team.
"As a freshman, she helped spark a turnaround for women's soccer with the program's first winning season and a conference championship," explained Roeders. "Kelly had an immediate impact on a team that was dominated by seniors. She followed their lead and still was our top player when it came to scoring goals. Kelly knew her role and excelled."
Roethe, Roeders, associate head coach Frank Pelaez and the Golden Eagles wanted to make success a tradition at MU, and they were all primed for a second winning season. Not only did Marquette score its second bsck-to-back winning seasons, but it also shared the C-USA title for the second straight season and registered a school record 10 consecutive wins. Remarkably, Roeders and Pelaez did it with a very young squad. The Golden Eagles lost 10 seniors from the 1996 squad, but Roethe assumed the role and picked up right where she left off her sophomore season in 1997 scoring 11 goals and assisting three goals for 25 points. She rewarded for her play and leadership her second straight Conference USA First Team honor along with being named the conference's most valuable player, the conference tournament's most valuable midfielder and another nod on the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Second Team.
"In a transition year, many new faces, she became more of a leader even as a sophomore," Roeders said. "She was consistent in her play and continued to score. Kelly was such a hard worker, she always knew and strived to play at a high level."
For the third straight season, the Golden Eagles advanced to the Conference USA Championship game and were on the cusp of an NCAA Tournament berth. Marquette tied UNC-Charlotte in the Conference USA Championship game, but four overtimes later, Charlotte earned the trip to the NCAA Tournament, ousting Marquette on penalty kicks, 5-4. The Golden Eagles finished the season with an eight game unbeaten streak. Roethe shined again as she almost matched her career highs in goals and total points, tallying 32 points on 12 goals and eight assists for the season. Not only was she able to score, she had a knack of coming through in clutch situations. Roethe scored five game-winning goals in 1998 including the game winner in overtime against South Florida that put Marquette in the conference championship game. Again, for her efforts, Roethe was a first team all-conference selection and also picked up her first regional first team honor by being named to the NSCAA All-Great Lakes First Team.
"As a junior, the team was on the edge of advancing to the NCAA tournament but lost in the conference final in penalty kicks. Kelly led the team in goals and assists, establishing herself as a player that the team relied on," Roeders said.
In 1999, Roethe's last season donning the blue and gold uniform, was quite possibly her most fulfilling. The Golden Eagles enjoyed their fourth straight wining season and matched its program high wins, 16. That same season, Roethe led Marquette to somewhere it has never been, the NCAA Tournament.
"Winning the conference tournament and making it to the NCAA Tournament that year was probably my greatest accomplishment," said Roethe. "That was a goal we had set out to achieve my freshman year and it was really amazing to have the team come together and meet the goal we had all been striving for."
It was a storybook ending for an already incredible career at Marquette for Roethe. After knocking off UNC-Charlotte in the Conference USA Tournament championship, 2-1 in overtime, the Golden Eagles went to nationally ranked Missouri for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and left victorious after four overtimes, 3-2. Marquette's Cinderella run that season ended at no. 8 Clemson, 1-0.
Roethe raked in the individual honors in 1999 as she was named to All-Conference USA's First Team for an unprecedented fourth time, was named the conference tournament's most valuable midfielder for the second time of her career and was a NSCAA All-Great Lakes First Team selection.
"Kelly and her three senior teammates were determined to take the final step, and they did. A program first became a reality as the team won the conference title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA's. As a senior, she knew what it took to lead as a captain and be ready to train and compete hard every day. She gave everything she had to make a dream come true, do it with class and keeping 'The Team' most important," Roeders added.
Roethe capped her career at Marquette with 123 career points, a mark that also inked her in the Conference USA record books as its all-time leading scorer and landed her a spot on the Conference's All-Decade Team. She is the only Marquette player to be name first team all-conference four times and just one of only two Marquette soccer players to score over 100 points for her career.
Along with the athletics honors, her hard work and tenacity inside the classroom paid off as she was Marquette's first ever NSCAA Scholar-Athlete First Team All-American and was named to the GTE Academic All-District V First Team.
She was awarded an NCAA Post graduate Scholarship in 2000 where she used it to attend the Medical College of Wisconsin. Today, Roethe is in residency training in pediatrics at Yale University Hospital, a place where she says playing soccer at Marquette helped her to get there.
"Being a student-athlete at Marquette really prepared me for the next stage in my life," expressed Roethe. "It takes a lot of commitment and hard work to perform both on the field and in the classroom. Time management, organization and prioritizing skills are the keys to balancing the demands of school work and practice schedules. These skills I developed at Marquette were invaluable to me in medical school, and continue to be an asset in the field of pediatrics."
In September 2006, she was honored an additional time as she was inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame, marking the first time a women's soccer player has been invited into this exceptional group student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff.
"Her stats speak for herself and to this day she is still the top scorer in Conference USA history. But Kelly is so much more; she has a wonderful personality and was an outstanding teammate," remarked Roeders. "She represents our program's mottos of 'Family', 'Pride & Tradition' and 'Excellence on and off the Field' as much as any player who has played for us. She is women's soccer's first representative in the Marquette Athletic Hall of Fame, an All American in the classroom and on the field, a C-USA All Decade Team member and most importantly a member of our 'Soccer Family'."
Aside from all her individual accomplishments, she played role that was so much greater each of her four years. She was a leader and a playmaker, and will always be remembered as the phenomenal player who had a capability of making the people around her better. So if Roethe, Marquette's most prolific scorer, leading the Golden Eagles to 61 wins in four seasons and their first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament is a storybook ending, then having her jersey retired must be happily ever after.
"Friday night will be Kelly's night at Valley Field," expressed Roeders. "She has left her finger prints on our program in many ways; she has left a legacy of excellence for Marquette women's soccer."