Emily Degeyter has been a part of an underdog status at Montclair State University her first two seasons with the women’s soccer team as a midfielder. She, along with her stellar team, have risen to success in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) and have come back from many difficult deficits.
Degeyter strived to be an exercise science major as a freshman, but after her first year she decided to change her major to biology. She feels that she can connect with the material taught in classes like anatomy and physiology and wants to do something with this major later in her life.
For some students on campus, being a freshman may not be as scary or intimidating as some think it is, considering it is their first time in an entirely new place. Degeyter was one of those freshmen, but now that she is switching majors, the balance has been a bit lost.
“I would say that last year, it was an easier time balancing everything I was doing,” Degeyter said. “This year, trying to switch my major has proven to be a challenge because the classes that I’m taking are really difficult, so being four weeks into the semester, I still haven’t found that balance and haven’t found time for myself.”
Degeyter went on to talk about the importance of “me-time.”
“Along with school and soccer, I’m going through the motions right now,” Degeyter said. “Having time for yourself is something so essential for athletes.”
Degeyter even tries to tie in self-care into her daily schedule, but socializing, winding down and finding people with similar interests and beliefs is also something she takes pride in here on campus.
“I like being involved with people who believe the same stuff that I do,” Degeyter said. “There’s this place called the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). It’s a different part of inter-varsity, like a club on campus, where the athletes believe in Jesus Christ. We come together and talk about the things that we struggle with at the same time.”
Degeyter was born into a soccer family and played for her whole life. From her own account, she didn’t choose soccer, soccer was chosen for her.
“I didn’t even have a choice,” Degeyter said. “My dad actually played here, and I knew it was going to be a family thing from the start.”
In order to truly understand where this drive for soccer came from, Degeyter went back to her time at West Morris High School.
“It was definitely a transition from anything I have experienced,” Degeyter said. “Playing with people that are four years older than you, the gap of age level and maturity in high school was a lot different. It allowed me to grow more as a player and stand my ground.”
Coaches are a huge part of any athlete’s life when being guided in sports and in life. For Degeyter, it was about being pushed mentally and unlocking another key to her athletic development.
“I have to give my coach a lot of credit, he introduced a mental toughness aspect that I never heard of before,” Degeyter said. “He was traditionally a wrestler and brought that aspect into soccer. It definitely challenged me, not just to grow in the physical game, but also the mental game.”
There are many aspects of college life, one potentially being athletics. This can be a challenge, and Degeyter highlighted the bumpy road she had to go through to get to where she is today.
“I got recruited through club, but I never thought [Montclair State] was going to be an option for me,” Degeyter said. “Both of my parents graduated from here, and I didn’t want to come here because of that, but it ended up working out. Coming into the season, I knew starting spots were not guaranteed, and I knew I had to work hard for everything because nothing was going to be handed to me.”
Degeyter scored her first goal of her freshman season against Stockton University last year. She talked a bit about that game, and how excitement was not the first thing on her mind after the goal.
“I just wanted to get the ball back and try to score another goal; it was almost like relief,” Degeyter said. “I remember running the ball into the back of the net, and trying to pick it back up and run back to the starting line and get it going again.”
Degeyter talks about how the perseverance of her team makes her proud to be a part of it.
“The way we always came back is incredible,” Degeyter said. “We scored in the last 10 seconds, or the last second in so many of our games this year, so that shows that we’re a team that doesn’t stop fighting in the last minute.”
Even with earning a spot on the All 2nd-Team in the NJAC and Rookie of the Week last season, Degeyter is not letting glory get to her head, but rather is using it to push herself to be a better player.
“It definitely motivates me to work harder every single time because this year is a fresh start,” Degeyter said. “It’s a new year, there’s new people and a new team surrounding you. You have to prove yourself every single second, not just for yourself but for the team in general. Every single person has to contribute in order to be successful.”