North Texas Daily

Ibewuike finds home with Mean Green soccer team

Ibewuike finds home with Mean Green soccer team

Ibewuike finds home with Mean Green soccer team
October 03
11:23 2013

Akshay Mirchandani / Staff Writer

Senior soccer forward Vanessa Ibewuike wasn’t sure she would be able to play for the Mean Green this season while paperwork was gathered and documented between her two former schools.

But she was ruled eligible, something head coach John Hedlund said is a huge plus for his team.

“Obviously, if we could get her on the field this fall it was going to be worth it. It was a process,” he said. “The NCAA made a decision in the fact that she had a year remaining.”

Ibewuike committed to Purdue University during the spring semester of her senior year at Plano East High School, but transferred to the University of Texas after her freshman year. After graduating last year, she ended up at UNT.

“I’m working on my master’s for interdisciplinary studies,” Ibewuike said. “I also had some more eligibility left. I got in contact with John [Hedlund] and talked to him about it and he said definitely, if we could get you to play that’d be awesome.”

She said there were many factors that went into the decision to transfer from Purdue.

“It was really far away, so my parents only got to come to one game my first year,” Ibewuike said. “It was cold. I had to go out there by myself so I had to make all new friends. It was just kind of a difficult process transitioning. I wanted to come back, and I wanted to come back to southern weather.”

She spent three years on with the UT team, but redshirted in 2012 – a way for players with severe injuries to retain a year of eligibility.

Ibewuike said it was hard having to move to three different schools within the span of a few years, but said her move to UNT was not too difficult because she was used to moving.

“It’s always tough when you have to move schools,” Ibewuike said. “It’s just hard making new friends, getting to know people. I’m kind of a shy person so it’s hard for me right away, so it’s always a little process when I first come to a school. But I think it helped me that I’ve done it so many times that it made this third time a lot easier.”

Senior defender Kelsey Hodges said that Ibewuike has fit in well with the team and doesn’t see her as being shy at all.

“She has a great personality. She’s very funny, very outgoing,” Hodges said. “She always has like a life-of-the-party type atmosphere on the team.”

Hedlund said playing against big name schools while at Purdue and Texas helped Ibewuike’s confidence, something that has spread to other members of the team.

“Her confidence level really was at an all-time high playing for those two big programs, getting that experience,” Hedlund said. “I think that confidence level has carried over to other members on our team – especially the offensive players. She seems to have that swagger on the field.”

Despite all of her experiences throughout all the different schools that she has been to so far, Ibewuike said there is something different about UNT.

“The biggest difference between here and playing at those others schools is that I feel like the team here is on the same page,” Ibewuike said. “We’re all here for the same goal. We’re all here to support each other and have each other’s backs on and off the field.”

Senior forward Vanessa Ibewuike gains possession of  the ball during a home game against Southern Mississippi on Sept. 27. Feature photo by Harris Buchanan / Staff Photographer

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