CHATHAM, NJ - In many cases in sports, you don’t necessarily have to find your way into the score sheet to make an impact for your team.
Such is the case for this week’s TAP into Chatham Athlete of the Week honoree: Grace Larson.
On the year, the senior midfielder on the Chatham girls soccer team only has one assist. But where she’s made up for it is the leadership and stability she brings to her squad day in and day out, especially with the injuries they’ve faced throughout the season.
“Being a center midfielder, I have a lot of underclassmen playing with me now,” Larson said. “At the beginning of the season, I was playing with three seniors in the middle. Now, I’m playing with two underclassmen, which is a huge step for them. It’s really up to me and the other seniors on the field to communicate with them and make them comfortable.”
Larson compares her openness to communication with her younger teammates to her own experiences as a sophomore on the varsity team two years ago.
“I was really afraid of the upperclassmen then, so I think the relationships I have with them (the underclassmen) now definitely helps us work together and communicate,” Larson said.
On a team whose midfield changes nearly every game, Larson has been the one true constant for coach Gary Adair.
“We’ve gone through about seven or eight girls in the midfield this year,” Adair said. “She’s really rolled up her sleeves and led by example, so I have to give her a lot of credit.”
It has been Larson’s consistency and steadiness throughout the season, especially during the team’s recent hot streak, that has led her to receive Adair’s admiration.
“When there’s so much change in a squad over the course of a season, if you’ve got that one player who’s always been there and she’s sending the same message, it really settles everybody down,” Adair said. “She may not get the stats, but if Grace weren’t playing, we wouldn’t be getting the results we’ve been getting.”
The Cougars, who are 5-1- 1 in their last seven matches and 8-4- 1 overall, will return to action on Sunday when they visit top-seeded Roxbury in a Morris County Tournament match.