North Texas Daily

Freshman athletes impress in their first year at UNT

Freshman athletes impress in their first year at UNT

Freshman athletes impress in their first year at UNT
October 07
12:00 2021

Some North Texas freshman athletes have been thrust into the spotlight as certain circumstances have necessitated them taking a larger role on their teams.

One of these freshman athletes is soccer defender Jori Foote, who has already made an impact in the nine games she has played. In these games, Foote has helped North Texas hold their opponents scoreless four times. Foote attributes her early success to her teammates rather than her own intuition.

“I think listening to my teammates and asking further advice and going off of what they say [helps],” Foote said. “Asking coaches what I need to do, asking people beside me what I need to do.”

Before landing at North Texas, Foote played soccer in her native Pflugerville, TX for the Lone Star Soccer Club based out of Austin. As a top player on the team, Foote was sought after by multiple division-I teams, including the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma as well as the University of California Los Angeles. Foote turned down the other schools and decided to continue her playing career 221 miles north at North Texas.

“The coaches and relationships [at North Texas] just made it seem like it was more bonded,” Foote said.

Among those bonds that Foote has found at North Texas is with fifth year defender Brooke Lampe.

“Just [Lampe] talking next to me makes me feel more at ease,” Foote said. “I talk a little bit less than her, so she’s there to talk for me when I need.”

After being a leader in the team for nearly half a decade, 2021 is Lampe’s final season for North Texas. As a player with an extensive history with the program, Lampe hopes that her guidance can lead to Foote becoming the new mainstay on the defensive line in the following year.

“Whenever I leave this next year, [Foote] hopefully can start to kind of take over that leading role in the back, either helping players now that need help or a newcomer girl that’s coming in next year” Lampe said. “[Foote] is extremely talented though, she has a really good mind for soccer.”

While Foote has a quiet demeanor, Lampe says that she is a “silent leader” on the field, even calming down Lampe at times in the heat of competition.

“[Foote] kind of helps keep me calm,” Lampe said. “Whenever I’m going or talking, doing this-or-that, she’s kind of my little peacekeeper.”

Conference USA rewarded Foote for her play with a “Defensive Player of the Week” honor on Sept. 28, following a game that saw Foote and the North Texas defense shutout the University of Southern Mississippi in a 0-0 tie, allowing only three shots throughout the entirety of the contest.

“I think we just have a good backline,” Foote said about winning her award. “Our defense is really good, and [Conference USA] just have seen that.” 

Sharing success as a freshman athlete is volleyball setter Katie Butler, who has been the starting setter in recent games over graduate student setter Kaliegh Skopal.

A native of Rockleigh, New Jersey, Butler is no stranger to impressing as a freshman. In her first year at Old Tappan High School, Butler led her team to a state championship as a freshman and multiple county titles throughout her career. Following a productive four years of high school, Butler decided to take her talent 1,602 miles southwest to North Texas. 

“I love experiencing new things,” Butler said. “So far Texas has been great, I love all the people I have met, everyone is so polite, nobody is in a rush [in Texas]. 

In her 13 games of play, Butler has had the pressure of playing in front of a setter who recently notched her 2,000th assist of her career. Butler admits that living up to expectations has been a lot of pressure for someone who was considered to be a top tier talent in high school. 

“I just had to realize that I don’t know everything, even though I was good in club and good in high school,” Butler said. “There’s very different expectations in playing in Conference USA at this level…it’s an even bigger adjustment than I thought it would be.”

While Butler’s first four starts were losses, she flashed her potential in the two recent games against Louisiana Tech. UNT won both games, with her best performance coming in the Oct 1. game where she stuffed the stat sheet with 54 assists, 7 kills and 14 digs.

“I’m trying to focus on being more confident in myself and focus on putting in a pivotal ball for my hitters.” Butler said. “I’m trying to be a leader on the court the best I can.”

Featured Image: North Texas defender Jori Foote (8) reacts to froward Brooke Lampe (23) before the kick off of the second half during a game on Sept. 19, 2021. Photo by Zach Del Bello

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

Senior Sports Writer.

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