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The Right Fit

October 21, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Liberty senior Amy Oberlin is among the program's all-time leaders in points and goals.

Liberty senior Amy Oberlin is among the program's all-time leaders in points and goals.

Editorial Note: This article ran in the Flames Illustrated football game day program on Oct. 11 (Stony Brook game). 

After attending a summer soccer camp at Liberty in 2004, Amy Oberlin made a decision to send a video tape of her soccer matches to the Lady Flames soccer coaching staff. At the camp, the Ada, Mich., native, who had grown up with a focus on basketball, drew the attention of the Liberty staff, which encouraged her to send a tape. With the help of her high school soccer coach, she put together a highlight video, which led to a recruiting visit to Liberty.

"It was actually the only college visit I came on, for anything," recalled Oberlin, now a senior on the Liberty women's soccer team. "I just loved it. I loved the girls. I loved the team. I loved the coaches. I loved the unity they had together.

"The [Liberty school] atmosphere was amazing. On the plane trip back home, my dad and I looked at each other, and we knew it was the place for me."

Having not played soccer at a higher level prior to beginning her first college season, the senior now admits to being apprehensive coming into the first matches of her Liberty soccer career. But, the way she burst onto the scene on her first weekend of college soccer proved to be a hint of things to come.

The midfielder scored a goal in her first collegiate soccer game, as the Lady Flames defeated UMBC, 3-2, and followed, two days later, with a goal in a 1-1 tie at Rider. For her exploits in her first two college games, Oberlin was named the Big South Player of the Week.

"Several of my teammates had taken me under their wing when I got here," remembered Oberlin. "I was so excited to step up for them, as I had never played at the [collegiate] level. I was surprised when I scored!"

She would go on to start every game of her freshman campaign, scoring five goals in helping Liberty capture the 2005 Big South Championship, the program's third conference title.

Since then, the midfielder, who will finish her four-year career in November, has become one of the program's most decorated players. In each of her first three years, Oberlin has been a member of the Big South all-conference team.

The past two seasons, she was named to the conference's first team, while in her first season with the Lady Flames, she was a second-team selection. Former Liberty standout Nancy Davis is the only other Lady Flame to be named to an All-Big South team in each of her first three seasons.

In addition, Oberlin has garnered VaSID all-state honors the past two seasons, being selected to the squad's second team both times. She also was named to the all-tournament team during Liberty's run to the 2005 Big South title. Last season, she was selected to the conference's all-academic team and has earned Big South Presidential Honor Roll mention each of her three years at Liberty.

With less than a quarter of her senior season still remaining, Oberlin is already listed in the program's record book among its career leaders. She enters Thursday's contest against Gardner-Webb in Boling Spring, N.C., tied for second all-time with 50 points and is second with 22 career goals. Blessed with being injury free, Oberlin is on pace to finish her career among the Liberty leaders in games played. She has currently played in 71 career games, with three regular season games remaining.

This season, she leads the Lady Flames with 14 points, scoring a team-high six goals and adding two assists. Last Tuesday, the senior was named the Big South Player of the Week, after netting two goals and assisting on another in Liberty's 3-1 victory over UNC Asheville Saturday.

All of this recognition has come as a surprise to the well-grounded and unassuming Oberlin. "It is all very unexpected for me," said the senior. "In high school, I had opposing teams' soccer coaches tell me, I would be coming off the bench for their teams.

"It is amazing to be able to excel for God's glory, and I am astonished by the blessings He has given me on the field."

Even though soccer was the first sport Oberlin began playing competitively while growing up in Michigan, she had to make a tough decision in her teen years between the sports of basketball and soccer. "I was playing both [sports] at high levels, basketball at the AAU level and soccer at the club level. My club coach told me I need to pick a sport, so I decided to focus on basketball and dropped club soccer. It wasn't an easy choice.

"However, when it came to college, it was either Liberty for soccer or another for basketball. It came down to the team and atmosphere at Liberty."

Despite all her accomplishments on the field, it is the senior's overall contribution to the Liberty women's soccer program that many connected with the Liberty program will remember, when she moves on after graduating in May with a degree in exercise science.

"Obviously, one can look at the stat sheet to see what she means to us on the field," stated teammate Rachel Wisehart. "We as a team have the upmost respect for Amy. She is a great friend to all of us. She has a lot of integrity and is trustworthy and compassionate."

"Amy is a great role model as a Christian student-athlete to both her peers, as well as aspiring young soccer players. She has an outstanding work ethic and a hunger to compete with excellence. Amy is a blessing to me and the Lady Flames soccer program," added Lady Flames head coach Jessica Celi. "There is a reason, she is our team captain."

"I am really honored to be our team captain this season," commented Oberlin. "It's my joy to serve the girls in this capacity. I'm the one they come to when they need help, and I am willing to assist them in any way I can.

"Being a part of the Liberty program has been great. We have gone through several changes. Yet, through it all, we are really close and lift each other up. I contribute 90 percent of my spiritual growth to my team, the girls and coaches. It is great to be able to represent Liberty University and used the talent that God gave me to represent him. I don't know what I would have done without it."
Off the field, Oberlin credits the University itself with her growth as a person. "I have matured a lot during my four years at Liberty," commented the senior. "I thought I was mature coming to school, but looking at it now, I have grown so much. Liberty has really shaped me into who I am now.

"I also met my fiancé, Zeb Frazee here, which definitely will always be my best memory of my time at Liberty.

"Spiritually, I was a Christian in high school, but I never put any time or effort into having a personal relationship with Christ. Here at Liberty, I have grown to have a personal relationship with Him, and it has really changed my life."

When she graduates in May, the senior will leave a lasting mark on the Liberty program not only in the record books, but also in the minds of those connected with the program. And while she leaves a mark there, Oberlin also realizes that Liberty has left a mark on her life too, and not just in soccer. As she realized on the airplane ride back to Michigan after her recruiting visit over four years ago, Liberty was the "right fit" for her.

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Written by Ryan Bomberger, an associate athletics communication director for Liberty University. He serves as the primary contact for Liberty University's baseball, men's and women's soccer and men's and women's tennis programs.