By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
Every young athlete dreams of becoming a champion at some level of their athletic life, but few get a chance to make that dream a reality.
As of Dec. 1, 2012, Gloria Hensley is in the category of the few.
As a college freshman, Hensley played on the 2012 NAIA Women’s National Championship team as the Lindsey Wilson Lady Blue Raiders knocked off Olivet Nazarene to bring home the school’s third national title.
Wilson said the experience was one she would never forget.
“You always dream of being a part of something like this, but you never really know if it will happen,” Hensley said. “I was fortunate enough to be a member of a great team and I’ll always remember that.
“I’m lucky because as a freshman, I got to play in almost every game this season,” she added. “I played in the two semifinals at nationals as well, so it’s pretty special.”
Hensley gained a lot of her soccer experience on club teams. As a member of the Paris Springboks, she said the key to getting better was a matter of repetition.
She said any young soccer players aspiring to play at the next level should be ready to put in the work it takes to get better.
“You really have to want to put the time in,” Hensley said. “The level of competition is so much different when you play on a travel team or a select team.
“It really comes down to doing things over and over until it comes naturally,” she added.
Hensley said she expects the Lady Blue Raiders to be near the top of the heap nationally next season, but said it all comes down to recruiting when it comes to replacing what the team lost this season.
“We had three seniors this season, so we have to replace them,” Hensley said. “They recruit a lot of international players and I’m actually one of a few Americans on the squad.
“Hopefully I’ll see more playing time next season as we try to repeat,” she added. “We just have to wait and see.”