On Mon., October 16, the Forum was granted the opportunity to sit down with four players from the Little Rock (LR) women’s soccer team: senior captain Quin Wilkes, senior forward Fali Garuba, junior forward Arola Aparicio Gili, and sophomore midfielder Doro Greulich. We at the Forum appreciate the humbleness, candidness, and honesty of all interviewed. We talked about everything from soccer, civil servitude, life, and… scavenger hunts?
Question: Growing up, who was your favorite soccer player?
Quin: “Growing up I didn’t really follow a lot of professional soccer, but my dad started in high school and played throughout college and was an All-American, so just seeing all the accolades he earned in a short amount of time, I really looked up to him.”
Fali: “Honestly… I didn’t start playing soccer until really late and that just happened by chance, but athlete wise, who is my favorite? Dwayne Wade. (What? Everyone laughs). But honestly right now, Messi. I just love the way he plays. I think he’s the best!”
Doro: “I guess whenever I grew up, it was the German Women’s National Team, like Birgit Prinz.” (Prinz won three FIFA Player of the Year Awards and led Germany to two World Cup Championships).
Arola: “My dad and brother love soccer, so I grew up watching all the games in the Spanish League. I like Barcelona, so Ronaldhinho, Henry (Thierry Henry), and Eto’o (Samuel Eto’o). They were all forwards and they were the three starters basically.” (All three are legends in the Spanish league).
Question: What do you all think about the U.S. Men’s National Team not qualifying for the World Cup?
Quin: “I feel like the men’s team is all politics, (it’s) who knows who. I feel like they can do a better job at recruiting more qualified players who will get the job done… No doubt they have a lot of talent individually as a team, but I feel like they could construct a better team.”
Arola: “I think here in the U.S., it’s more about men’s football and baseball. That’s why I think the team didn’t qualify because they don’t put as much attention towards (soccer). Different from Spain, soccer is the main thing, so all kids grow up knowing how to play.” She added, “Girls grow up playing soccer in the U.S., Spain is just getting there.”
Doro: “I know Germany qualified!” (Everyone laughs.)
Question: Do any of you plan to play internationally?
Doro: “I went to one of the training camps… but I didn’t get any farther than that.”
Arola: “I played with a lot of kids that were on the international team and they are good… I remember one practice they put me with the older girls who were mostly Spanish national team. They put me in the middle and they were just zooming by me. That’s when you see how much better they are.” (Everyone laughs.)
Question: If you weren’t playing soccer, what would you be doing?
Fali: “I don’t think I would be in Little Rock. One of my goals in high school (was) to go to Duke University… I planned on studying nursing, so that’s the same. I am involved in this community so whatever community that I would’ve been, I would be involved…. But honestly, I can’t even imagine, because I’ve grown so much here that if I was somewhere else I don’t know if I would’ve experienced the same type of growth… Just hope I would be making a difference wherever I was… Actually, I came in wanting to be a doctor, so maybe looking to go to medical school.”
Quin: “Before I found out about LR, I really wanted to go to Ohio State University… at the time I really wanted to be near family (family in the that area). So, if I didn’t get recruited I would have found my way to Ohio to be closer to family…. But like Fali said, just making a difference in the community because I do a lot with SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) (currently serving as president) and other extracurricular stuff, and just like getting to know people too; so hopefully just making a difference.”
Doro: “I wouldn’t be in Little Rock. I have a twin sister and she went to Africa for a year after graduating high school and I’m pretty sure I would have done the same thing. Just serving in the kindergarten or just helping people out, because I wanted to go abroad somewhere. That’s why I came to the U.S., because I wanted to see something.”
Arola: “I would be in Barcelona. Still in college, but I think I would have a job, because I never had an (actual) job and I think I need that. But here it is illegal for me, because I am a student, I cannot work at the same time. I think in Barcelona, studying, working; and I like to travel a lot, so just combining those three things.”
Question: Quin, since you’re a senior and team captain, what is one piece of advice you would leave with an underclassman regarding soccer/life?
“Don’t take any second of your experience for granted. Savor every second because you can blink (and) it can all be over.”
Question: Who is the team jokester?
All laugh and agree: (#8) Erna Guðjónsdóttir.
Question: Do you all do any bonding activities?
The girls told of a couple of different bonding activities. One was having to carry an empty Rubbermaid ice tub and a tire around the entire Coleman Sports Complex. Another was a fun-fact competition about teammates that ended in fitting teammates through “spider web” holes made by rope tied on the goal.
But one bonding activity was very creative:
Quin: “I think the most fun team bonding that we had was the scavenger hunt around downtown Little Rock. We were all just sprinting up and down the Riverfront because the coaches gave us a scavenger hunt list, so we had to find different monuments, and like, take a picture with a hotel clerk, so we were just sprinting everywhere.”
Question: Going into the next three games and the SunBelt tournament, what are your thoughts?
Arola: “We have to make it, we have to win!”
Fali: “It’s going to be a fight, every game is going to be a fight. Just making sure we’re GRITty from the first second to the last second…. We want to win, we need wins.”
Quin: “These last few games are really going to be a test for how bad we want it. We have to have more heart than the other teams. We’re more than capable of beating these teams, but if we’re not working hard enough and not having more heart than the other team, we’re not going to get it, because our conference is that close. Just have to out work them.”
(The team did just that, winning both of the first two road games 3-1, over Georgia Southern and Georgia State, respectively.)
Question: What are your general thoughts about the overall season?
Arola and Quin both answered and concluded, talented but inconsistent.
Question: Anything you all want to say to the fans and student body?
Arola: “Come to the games! (Everyone Laughs) … You feel it, when you’re playing, and you get a free kick and you hear everybody pumped up, it scares the other team and it makes a difference.”
Quin: “Just being here these past four years, I’ve seen an increase in support from outside the athlete body, and I’m really thankful for that, because that’s awesome! So just continue to support us please and just keep being an awesome crowd. You guys really turn us up when you’re (the crowd) engaged!”