Region IX player of the year leads Golden Eagles in scoring

Nikita Woods dribbles the ball down the field against Iowa Western Community College on Sept. 3.

The Region IX Player of the Year resides here at Laramie County Community College, but the path she took to LCCC is not the norm.

Nikita Woods led the Golden Eagles women’s soccer team this season with 25 goals and was fourth on the team with 10 assists, which led to Woods being honored as the Region IX Player of the Year.

“It means a lot,” Woods said. “I mean not just for me but to my family as well because we have sacrificed a lot for me to be here. It’s a nice reward for everyone at the end of the day.”

Woods didn’t take the traditional path to college. Unlike most students who come to LCCC from the local area, Woods grew up in Corrimal, Australia. At first, the transition from Australia to Cheyenne was tough for Woods.

“It’s tough,” Woods said. “Especially like I’m a sophomore now, but freshman year it was tough leaving mom and dad. I’ve got four older sisters and my friends, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

The transition from Australia to the United States didn’t only take place in Woods personal life, it was also a new world in the aspect of getting acclimated to the soccer pitch.

It’s a lot different playing in America compared to Australia. Australia doesn’t have college athletics for soccer or any other sport like here in America, Woods said.

The other difference came from the speed and physicality of the game.

“The competition is different as well,” Woods said. “It’s more rough at home, but it’s more faster over here.”

Woods is one of six international players that head coach Jim Gardner has on the Golden Eagles soccer team. She believes Gardner has helped her grow as a person on and off of the field.

“He is a great coach,” Woods said. “I really look up to him and respect him. He’s taught me a lot off the field as well. About respect and putting other people before yourself and things like that.”

The Golden Eagles made it to the national tournament for the third straight year after defeating Snow College 2-1 at home in the District C Championship Game. In Melbourne, Florida, the women’s soccer team defeated Moraine Valley Community College 6-0 in pool play, but failed to advance to the knockout stage after falling to ASA College 7-3.

Woods was disappointed to miss out on the knockout stage but said was amazing to just make it that far. She was proud of her team for making it to nationals in her two seasons at LCCC.

“It’s incredible,” Woods said. “It’s a credit to the team and to the coaching staff. To get us all there two years in a row is just an amazing feeling.”

Woods will be graduating from LCCC this May with an Associate of Arts in Education and is undecided in terms of where she hopes to play next.

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