As one of only two seniors on the 2018 Howard Payne Lady Jackets soccer team, midfielder Dayane Gutierrez hopes to help create a foundation for future success in her final year.
Since coming to Howard Payne in 2015, and seeing regular playing time since her freshman year, Gutierrez knows what it's like be to thrown into the fire and hopes to be a guiding force for younger players as the team focuses on building a foundation for a Division III soccer dynasty.
"When we got scored on, I saw some of the girls put their heads down," Gutierrez said. "That's not the mentality in college. The mentality is getting your head back up. Start the ball and get the game rolling again. It's just learning from our mistakes. I have to remind them we're not playing for the satisfaction of our fans, we're playing for the satisfaction of God. We need to play our hardest because God gave us this ability."
Gutierrez comes into the 2018 season following a successful campaign in 2017, where she started 14 of 15 games netting one of six shots on goal. She did not register stats for 2016, but began her college career with 465 game minutes including 10 shots with 6 on goal. The Lady Hornets currently sit at 0-4 with losses to larger colleges and universities such as the University of Dallas, Hendrix College, Texas Wesleyan University and Wayland Baptist University.
"It's a really young team and our chemistry is not really there yet, but it's getting there," Gutierrez said. "It's starting to form and fall into place. It's just going to take a little bit of time. High school soccer is not the same as college soccer. It's a faster pace and your mentality has to be very different. I just have to encourage the girls."
Once her college soccer career comes to an end, she hopes to remain on the HPU staff as a graduate assistant in preparation for a future career in business management. She hopes to one day take what she learned as a student-athlete at HPU and open her own soccer training complex.
"In girls soccer especially, it's grown tremendously," Gutierrez said. "I'm from Dallas-Fort Worth and I've seen soccer camps with girls going to universities and having week-long camps. I went to some of those as well. It's a growing market ... A lot of people don't know where to start, but in the DFW area it's such a big business in teaching them how to play and the foundation to becoming a better athlete."
Until she graduates, she will enjoy her last days as a Lady Jacket and, hopefully, give her younger teammates and the program a boost in momentum as it continues moving forward.
"It has been a great experience. I am trying to see if I can be a GA next year, helping coach the women's soccer team and maybe staying a year," Gutierrez said. "That's on the table. Maybe if I can get it approved I will be staying another year. It's humbling. I want the best for the girls that come after me. I want to set up my teammates for success. It's exciting, but scary at the same time."
Editor's Note: Wednesdays throughout the school year, the Brownwood Bulletin will profile a Howard Payne student-athlete who goes above and beyond in their respective sports, in the classroom and in the community.