Redshirt senior goalie influential on sidelines

By Matt Hopkinson

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.'”

This personifies the type of leadership skills possessed by Meaghan Bennett, senior backup goalkeeper and two-time captain of the NIU women’s soccer team.

Bennett has been with the team since 2007, although she played behind Lindsey Curnock between 2007 and 2009. Curnock holds the NIU all-time record for shutouts in a season.

Bennett has to balance a tough schooling program, practices, games and the responsibility of being the captain and leader at all times.

“Being a leader by example has always come easier to me,” Bennett said. “This year I felt like I’ve had to take more of a vocal role in practice and in games.”

Bennett leads drills in practice, helps any of her teammates with any issue and can even sometimes help assistant coach and goalkeeper coach Sara Kloosterman relay her messages.

“[Bennett] does a lot with instruction and with her work ethic she pushes the younger goalkeepers,” Kloosterman said. “She’s the core; she’s been through it and knows what NIU soccer is about and where we want to go.”

Bennett spent time playing behind Curnock, who was dominant at times in the net. And now, Bennett is backing up Amy Carr, who is working her way up in the NIU record books as well.

“To be honest, she is one of the nicest girls I’ve ever met,” Carr said. “She’s the best captain I’ve ever had and she leads by example. I think she knows when people need her, which is a quality that is the most valued in a captain, but few have.”

With limitless stories and memories obtained from being with the team, Bennett’s favorite part of being a student-athlete is the opportunities she has been afforded.

“I’ve been able to meet so many people I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Bennett said. “You’re in a group of 500 people plus; you immediately have those connections. Before I came to college I think I’ve been west of Mississippi once. I’ve been able to travel and see things I otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Bennett is a nursing major, and her dream job entails working with babies in some fashion, whether it be an OB nurse or something else.

Although it wouldn’t seem to be an ordinary combination, it begs the question whether she would like to coach in addition to nursing.

“Specifically, I would like to coach goalkeepers,” Bennett said. “It’s a special position and doesn’t get enough attention, so I would like to do that if I ever got the chance.”