Athlete of the Week: Michelle Cole

Nisa Rodriguez

She kicks! She…scores? Not on Michelle Cole’s watch. The University of Texas at San Antonio has the privilege of having Cole as a goalkeeper on the women’s soccer team. Just last year, it was reported that Cole had 60 saves for her team. She appeared in 14 matches in goal, including 12 starting nods which logged a team high total of 1033:17 in net during that season. She was awarded the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll in 2015, 2016 and 2017. She was also awarded the Conference USA Academic Medal honoree in 2016 and 2017. There’s no blueprint on how her last season of soccer will go, but for Cole, it’s prime time. 

Cole has been playing soccer since she was five years old. Although she was born in Seattle, Washington, she grew up in Anchorage, Alaska – not an ideal place to play soccer – but Cole and her team made it work.

“During high school, in Alaska, we had to shovel the snow off the turf before we could play. We would shovel a 25-yard box to at least practice in and then each day we could do more until eventually the whole field was cleared.” Most soccer teams had the privilege to go outside and play right away – Cole and her team had to work for the field in order to play on it. She continues, “High school season starts in March. The winter that year was just really harsh so the snow stuck on the field.” Dedication was an important factor for Cole. 

Realizing there wasn’t a lot of exposure in Alaska to play soccer, she moved to Georgia and decided to pursue her soccer career. It wasn’t easy for her to leave all her friends in Alaska, but she later realized she was gifted at playing soccer and needed to follow that path. “Moving was the best option,” she stated. At boarding school, she played on a club team; the school didn’t allow them to play on a high school team. 

“We tried playing in a league just to get games in every week.” Her club team also played a lot of showcase tournaments just to get more experience playing the game. Cole stated, “There were times where it got really hard, but I feel like I thrive off the pressure.” Quitting was never an option. 

Graduation came around and Cole stated that UTSA reached out to her during the recruiting process; and, since her sister went to Trinity University, she called San Antonio a “home away from home.” Cole had always liked San Antonio – she said there is a lot to do here and the location of the college was perfect for her. Cole is a senior this year at UTSA, holding a biomedical engineering degree, although she admits she has changed her major a couple of times. After graduating from UTSA, Cole plans to get her masters in prosthetics, which will hopefully lead her to opening her own prosthetics clinic. She plans to stay in Texas to get her masters degree. 

When Cole is not on the field, she says that she’s probably getting work done or watching Netflix. “We have practice from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. and once we get out, I go straight to school for class. By the end of the day, I’m super tired so I usually just do homework and then go to bed.” She is also a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), meeting every Monday to start her week off.

Seeing fans come out and giving out autographs has really motivated her to do her best during her final year. “Having perseverance throughout the years just helped a lot. I found something I’m passionate about,” Cole said. Her college life at UTSA has been a memorable one. For Cole, it never got easier, it just got better. “Once we’re on the field, we mean business.”

Cole and the UTSA soccer team had a great start to their season. Come out and get rowdy at their next home game Friday, October 5 at 7pm at the Park West Athletics Complex where they’ll be facing FAU. Birds up!