By Scott Wyant
Fredericksburg, Va. — Being an NCAA Division I athlete is a huge time commitment, and being a two-sport athlete would seem to be nearly impossible. But Becca Wann of the W-League’s Fredericksburg Impact isn’t just your everyday athlete and she took the challenge head-on at the University of Richmond.
Wann was a standout at Midlothian, Va.’s Cosby High School on the basketball court and the soccer pitch. And unlike most other high school stars who focus on one sport in college, Wann decided to play both at UR.
After picking up both sports playing with her brothers as a child, Wann fell in love with each and refused to give either up when she entered college.
“I believe my sports abilities are God-given, so I always knew I want to play both,” Wann said. “I always knew I could never pick one so it’s always been basketball and soccer.”
In her first two seasons at Richmond, Wann already ranks fourth in school history in goals scored (22), including seven game-winning goals in 2011 — the most in school history. This past season Wann was named a first-team All-American by the National Soccer Coach Association of America.
On the hardwood, Wann was named the Atlantic 10 Conference’s most improved player in 2012 as she led the Spiders in assists, pulled down the second-most rebounds and averaged nine points per game.
What makes Wann so special is her ability to attack defenses through the air. A skill that can be very difficult to find is seemingly second nature to the self-defined “rebounding guard.” That aggression and fearlessness in the paint of a basketball court has followed Wann to the penalty box in soccer.
“She loves heading the ball,” said Impact coach Jen Woodie of her star player’s skill. “She will dive before she brings it down with her foot.”
The skills Wann has developed in both sports have helped establish her as the player she is in both sports, but in the end it comes down to her drive to succeed.
“Work ethic is something that transcends sports,” Wann said. “The hustle and the ‘go get the ball’ mentality is one I have for both.”
Woodie, who previously coached Wann at Richmond, credits Wann’s passion for life as a whole to her success in athletics.
“It’s her attitude, she’s the kid that is always smiling,” Woodie said. “She’s literally happy to be alive everyday. She wakes up and says, ‘What can I do today?’ She’s one of those who wants to cram as much as she can into one day.”
With her NCAA athletic season beginning in early August and ending in late March, throw in classes and Wann’s schedule is swamped. As the Spiders basketball season wound down, she pledged to take two weeks off from both sports and the weight room.
Let’s just say the time off wasn’t welcomed with open arms.
“My parents had to do everything short of strap me to my bed in order to keep me from working out,” Wann said.
The time off didn’t last long, as she accepted an invitation to the U.S. Under-20 National Team (soccer) training camp in Carson, Calif.
“It was the best sports week of my life,” Wann said. “It was encouraging to know I could compete with the best players in the country.”
After her week in California, Wann joined the Impact, scoring five goals in her first three games with the team.
Woodie has utilized her offensive threat by making the game more simple, and with the reduced daily schedule Wann has thrived in the W-League. She has seen action as a target forward and in the midfield.
“It’s just carefree and go, at least in the summer because she doesn’t have to worry about 10 million other things going on,” Woodie said.
The league has also allowed younger players such as Wann to learn from the team’s veteran core players; Nicole Marks, Missy Wycinsky and Sandra Matute.
“Getting the chance to play with older players, it brings a different element,” Woodie said. “The team-first aspect is there and that’s the biggest take away for these younger players.”
As the W-League season winds down, Wann hopes to take the lessons learned with the Impact back to Richmond for the fall season.
“This has been great, getting touches on the ball before reporting to Richmond,” Wann said.
With big goals for her athletic season, she’ll use every touch she can get on the basketball and soccer ball heading into the fall.
Wann, always a step ahead of the competition on and off the field or court, recently sat down with her mom and talked about her high expectations for the Spiders’ seasons.
“I’m ready to make two NCAA tournament appearances,” Wann said with confidence.
If Wann’s year with the Impact is evidence, she is going to do everything in her power to make that goal a reality.