Catherine Miles, a senior forward on Western Washington University’s women’s soccer team, is leading the Vikings in goals scored this season and has been making waves in both the athletic and academic communities during her four years at WWU.
Miles was named to the 2015 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women’s All-Academic team Wednesday, the day before the Vikings host the regional championship against Azusa Pacific.
Her consistency on the field and attention to her teammates is what has made Miles a key component of Western’s team the past four years, Viking coach Travis Connell said.
“She really has become a force and I don’t know if she would have predicted that coming into it, how successful she was going to be on the field but also the kind of leader that she has become,” Connell said. “Whatever the team needs, whether it is a push or support or whether someone needs to go out there and set an example, she has a knack for that and the other players love to follow her.”
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Miles is fourth in career goals for the Vikings with 43. She leads the season with 11 goals scored.
Choosing to play for Western after growing up in Anacortes allowed Miles to continue being coached by Connell, who was her club coach for three years in high school, he said.
“I know I’m going to have Catherine’s best effort whenever she walks onto the field but also she is a very talented player,” Connell said. “She plays offense and defense from that forward position, which is huge for us.”
While she is not the kind of leader to step up and make a rousing speech, she is always the one who encourages players who are struggling or had a bad day, he said. Miles has even requested to room with teammates while on the road who needed her help, whether it was with studying math or maintaining high spirits.
“No matter what is in front of Catherine, she is able to take it on with poise and she is very capable in her approach to all these things,” Connell said. “Whether it is caring for a teammate or giving a little extra in a game or dealing with an injury and having perspective, her character as a human being is the best part of her.”
The help goes both ways. Being a member of the soccer team changed her college experience for the better, Miles said.
“It’s made being a student here really fun,” she said. “I live with four other girls on the team and we come to school together, we were in a lot of the same classes together first and second year, we schedule our breaks together. Having this close group of people just to be with all the time and have our backs has made the transition, especially from high school to college, a lot easier.”
Miles has certainly done well with the support system she has built around her. She was named to the all-academic team after entering her senior year with a 3.71 GPA and plans to focus solely on her education after this season is over, she said. A chemistry major, Miles will graduate in the spring and is currently applying to east coast graduate schools.
Looking forward to the game against Azusa Pacific, and to the rest of the season, Miles and her coach repeat their faith in the team to step up and win.
“We are looking to come out strong and hopefully put it away from the beginning; no last-five-minutes game winning goals again,” she said, referencing her winning goal on Saturday, Nov. 14, against Seattle Pacific.
The West Region championship begins at 7 p.m. on Nov. 19, at Harrington Field.