It was a preseason tournament last July in Steamboat Springs, Colorado where Rapid City Stevens girls' soccer captain Lexie Wood found her voice.
Wood was going into her senior season and her second season as a captain. As a junior, she admitted that she wasn't always as vocal as she needed to be in her captain role.
After that tournament, she became the leader of the team.
"Last year I was kind of learning how it all works, but this year, I love it. I kind of love taking lead of everybody, if I see something wrong I’ll address it or tell them if they're goofing off to focus," she said. "That was important to me, because I was my quiet self, so that tournament really transformed me into being a leader on this team and using my voice. Not being afraid to give people options, and (Stevens coach) Luis (Usera) really helped me find the right words to use not to sound mean but giving them options."
Wood had an big week as the Raiders got two big wins to conclude their regular season with a 8-2-1 record with a 2-1 win over Rapid City Central Tuesday and a 6-0 win over Spearfish Saturday.
Against Central Wood assisted on both goals, and against the Spartans she added two goals.
"I think we played really good, we connected well. We’re starting to really connect in getting ready for the playoffs. I just trusted my teammates that they were going to do their job and I was going to do my job," she said. "It was just having fun too, enjoying being out here and practicing with each other."
It was the kind of week where, especially against a rival it had lost to earlier in the season in Central, Stevens needed its leaders to step up. Usera said Wood did exactly that, and has been all season.
"One of the things she and I talked about is, "what do you want from the team, it’s your team as a senior captain, what do you want from them? You have to let them know what you want and if you don’t, it’s not your team.’" He said. "She’s really owned that and become the leader of the team."
Usera said she's become not just the leader of the team in practices and games, but the social leader of the team as well, a team Wood says refers to each other as 'sisters.'
He also gave her one of the biggest compliments a coach can give a player: the Raiders look like a different team when she's not on the field.
"When she’s not on the field we play differently than when she’s on the field," he said. "She can tell girls to clean up their first touches because she’s cleaning up her first touch, she can tell girls to play hard on defense because she plays hard on defense, it’s in everything she does."
The Raiders will wait for Tuesday's results to determine who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.
With its win against Spearfish, Stevens clinched hosting a first-round playoff game. That game will be October 2 at Sioux Park Stadium.
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Other athletes considered:
Zach Anders, Harding County football
Anders had a big game receiving as the Ranchers topped Faith 36-20 Friday night.
He caught 10 passes for 153 yards as Harding County moved to 5-1.
Karlee Simmons, Hill City cross country
Simmons finished second at the Rapid City Invitational girls' race Friday in 19 minutes, 13 seconds, eight seconds behind winner Abigail Whitman from Laramie, Wyo.
Bryanna Kuhn, Rapid City Stevens girls' soccer
Kuhn had a big week, recording two goals and one assist as Stevens topped Rapid City Central Tuesday and Spearfish Saturday.
Tuesday against the Cobblers, Kuhn had a goal in a 2-1 win while against the Spartans Saturday she had a goal and a assist in a 6-0 win.
Katie Conrad, Rapid City Stevens girls' tennis
Conrad had an undefeated weekend in singles and doubles as the Raiders moved to 23-1 with four wins against St. Thomas More, Aberdeen Central and Huron.
She topped Rachel Schmahl from STM 10-3 and her team with Abbey Dehler beat Alastrina Scott and Bridget Raymond 10-6 in doubles. Against Aberdeen she topped Yufeng Peng 10-6 in singles and her doubles team beat Peng and Carly Comstock 10-6.
Against Huron she topped Eh Ter Ler Hae in singles 10-0 and Bethany Engelhart and Madelynn Lord 10-2.