Quick to react: Soccer, tennis build reflexes, relationships

For The Tribune

Over the years, Rachel Collett has enjoyed playing soccer and tennis at Seymour High School.

She began playing soccer at an early age but didn’t pick up a tennis racquet until her sophomore year.

She said it takes quick reflexes to make a save in soccer or to return a serve in tennis.

Collett said she joined the tennis team her sophomore at the urging of teammate Katie O’Mara.

“She told me how much fun it is, and it has been,” Collett said, and added that she hadn’t played any organized tennis prior to that spring. “I played singles for a couple matches on JV, but every varsity match I’ve only played doubles.

“I like doubles a lot. I’ve always played with one of my friends on the team, so it’s always been fun to kind of get back together after the play is over and talk about it and figure it out together.”

On the court, Collett has confidence in her backhand.

“I usually play on the backhand side. I think my backhand is better than my forehand,” Collett said. “I like to play up at the net a lot better. I feel more comfortable there, and I like to slam it.”

Collett said she thinks she has good reaction on making returns and she said that goes hand-in-hand with playing goalie in soccer.

She also said it is important to win the first set in tennis as well as scoring the first goal in soccer.

“It’s very important to win the first set because every time I lose the first set I kind of get down on myself, and then it’s hard to come back,” Collett said. “It’s a little less pressure being the goalie. If one goes in you just didn’t ruin it for everybody. We had the ability to score on the other team. It’s a big mental push.”

Most all of Collett’s best tennis memories are with her teammates.

“I liked all of the girls. Tennis hasn’t always been one of my best sports. I’ve always done it for the enjoyment, and all the girls have made it a great experience,” she said.

Collett began playing soccer at 6 years old and played all the way up.

“I started in goal my junior year, but I played in the field before that,” she said.

She said it was different playing goalie on turf and on grass .

“The ball bounces a lot better on the turf, and it also moves a lot faster, so on regular grass it’s not quite as fast, and it moved different if it was wet, too,” Collett said.

Collett, who said she preferred playing on turf, mentioned communication was key on the defensive end of the field.

“You’ve got to have a lot of communication. I’m not really a loud person so that was my biggest problem,” Collett said. “We had four backs so we had two in the center and Kayla Griffin was kind of in charge of the defensive line, and I was in charge of the goal so the two of us had to talk and figure that out.”

On penalty kicks, Collett had to make quick decisions on penalty kicks.

“There were more penalty kicks this year than any other year,” Collett said. “You can tell by the way the person stands, their hips. If they’re open, they’re going to go one way, and if they have them closed off its going to go the other so have to read what they’re going to do.”

She said her favorite away field was playing in a tournament her junior year at Franklin College.

Collett said she believes the mental aspect of sports is important.

“Coming from a goalie background you have to think that it got past all these other people before it got past you and you can’t get down on yourself,” Collett said. “That carried over to tennis a lot for me, that it just wasn’t my fault. Especially playing doubles. You always have that other person to boost you.”

The senior liked attending SHS.

“I’ve had a lot of the same teachers for a few different classes, so I’ve maintained these relationships with my teachers, and I think they’ll always be there to help me whenever I need it and I can always call them in college if I have a question,” Collett said.

“I’ve made friends I’ll have forever in soccer and tennis because a lot of them are involved in both sports, so I’ve seen them more than I’ve seen a lot of other people in school.”

Collett senior focus

Name: Rachel Collett

School: Seymour High School

Parents: Sonya and Darren Collett

Sibling: Claire

Sports: Tennis, three years; soccer, four years

Athletics highlights: Soccer – captain, all-conference honorable mention, academic all-state

Organizations: National Honor Society, French Club, Broadway Club, Band, Rockford United Methodist Church youth group

Plans after high school: Attend Purdue University, study chemistry and forensic science

Favorite food: Potato chips

Favorite TV show: “Orange is the New Black”

Favorite band: Rolling Stones

Favorite movie: “School Of Rock”

Favorite teams: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors

Author photo
Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.