Throughout the summer, University of Maine women’s soccer coach Scott Atherley periodically sends e-mails to his players, offering them encouragement and guidance as they train for the season.

Kelsey Wilson was used to receiving those e-mails. But when she saw the last line of one of her coach’s recent e-mails, she found surprising news. Atherley announced that Wilson, a senior midfielder from Gorham, woulld be their captain for the 2010 season.

“I didn’t need to be named as a captain to show what I could do as a leader,” Wilson said. “But it was nice to be able to have that label. It’s very rewarding.”

Wilson, who was unanimously selected by her teammates, has a clear goal for her final season at Maine.

“I want to be able to leave everything I have and make it to the NCAA tournament. That’s been my goal since I was little. This may be my last time being in this type of environment. Playing with a team that you’re so close with, it would be rewarding to say, ‘We accomplished this together.’ “

Wilson and the Black Bears begin practice Aug. 5 in Orono, and open the season Aug. 22 at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. Wilson recently returned to Maine after a three-week trip with her family to Scotland, and is living and training in Orono. Typically, she splits her days between working an on-campus laboratory, where she is doing research on wood chips and by-products of paper mills, and training four days a week.

Wilson is working toward a degree in biological engineering, one of the more rigorous majors at Maine. She chose the field of study because she wanted to challenge herself, not just as an athlete but as a student who was preparing for postgraduate work and potentially for medical school.

“In high school, I always took a hard classload and made sure to manage my time,” said Wilson, who scored three goals and four assists in 17 games in 2009. “It’s all about time management and dedication. If you think you can do it and plan your time well, you can accomplish it.”

Wilson’s self-discipline, Atherley explained, is her strongest quality.

“Kelsey’s the type of student-athlete who, we’re on the road and a playoff game is over and it’s 10 at night,” Atherley said. “We’re boarding the bus after we eat at 11 and we get home at 2 a.m. I look back and Kelsey has the light on and she’s studying. She says, ‘I have a test tomorrow, and I need to make sure I’m ready.’

“It’s that self-discipline. She is great at compartmentalizing her life.”

Jeanne Zarrilli, who coached Wilson at Gorham High School, believes that Wilson’s self-discipline translates to the field.

“Her focus is always there,” Zarrilli said of Wilson, a two-time Maine Sunday Telegram girls soccer MVP and the Sunday Telegram’s 2007 Female Athlete of the Year. “She wants the best out of herself and the best out of her program, wherever she’s working. She’s willing to be whatever kind of team player she needs to be, whatever role she needs to play in each game, and she’s also really good at being a role model for the younger players.”

While Wilson looks forward to her senior year, she also reflects on her growth as a teammate, athlete and as an individual.

“You look back and see the freshman who come in and you think, that used to be me,” Wilson said. “I feel like I’ve matured in so many ways. I was a very shy person and going to college and having all the responsibility on yourself, it gave me more confidence to be the person I could be, and to become more of an individual.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

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