N.J. -- Super Bowl Sunday has become a tradition of another
sort for thousands of female athletes across the country.
In New Jersey a special ceremony and luncheon held at Seton
Hall University marked the 25th Annual National Girls and
Women in Sports Day Feb. 6.
Sophomore soccer player Marissa Segal, of East Windsor, represented
Mercer County Community College at the event. In addition
to her parents, Segal was accompanied by Head Soccer Coach
Jodie Ricciardi and Assistant Coach Mike DeAngelis.
Segal says she was honored to be selected. "When Mr.
Simone [MCCC Assistant Dean John Simone] told me, I thought
it was very nice, something I would have forever."
During the ceremony, Segal listened to the inspirational stories
of prominent female athletes and the role athletics has played
in shaping their lives.
Segal, too, credits athletics with helping her become the
person she is today. "I have become such a competitor,"
she says. "I do not accept failure. That feeling on the
field goes hand-in-hand with what I do in my personal life
and in the classroom."
As team captain this season, Segal led a squad that was challenged
by injury from the start. A natural and lifelong defender,
Segal herself moved to midfield for some of the season. At
midfield, she scored three goals and earned six assists. Other
players made similar accommodations, also with good results.
Considering their challenges, Segal says she is satisfied
with the Vikings' achievements, which included advancing to
the Region 19 final, where they lost in overtime. Segal was
named to the First Team All-Region 19 and First Team All-GSAC
for the second year.
observes that this year's squad was very different from last
year's. "We lost three top players - Kasey Kenny, Carolyn
Walters and Erika Juricic."
But other surprises awaited, including the arrival of three
players from Spain, including Christina Alonso, this year's
Player of the Year for Region 19.
Segal notes that the Spanish players came to Mercer more focused
on footwork and tactics, while the Americans were more focused
on conditioning. So, they learned from each other. "I
have never played with anyone from overseas. We had so much
fun," Segal said. "They taught us things about Spain
and we taught them things about American culture. They were
very down to earth."
Finishing up her associate degree in Liberal Arts this semester,
Segal is currently busy with applications to transfer schools.
She is considering schools' academic programs, as well as
the opportunities she will have to continue her collegiate
soccer career. Her goal is to be a physician's assistant.
With a 3.5 GPA, Segal has been on the Dean's List since starting
at Mercer. She has learned to manage her time well, studying,
playing soccer, and working in the Athletics Office. She also
gives group and private lessons in soccer and lacrosse for
Jersey Elite Sports Academy. "I love helping people,"
"The opportunity to come and play at Mercer worked out
great for me," she continues. "It worked out financially,
playing-wise and academically." She notes that at a four-year
school, freshmen must gradually work their way into the line-up,
while at Mercer she hit the ground running, playing practically
every minute of every game.