Preston was born to play soccer

Published 6:11 am Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dowagiac senior captain Christina Preston has been around soccer since she was old enough to walk. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Dowagiac senior captain Christina Preston has been around soccer since she was old enough to walk. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Christina Preston laughs when talking about the start of her soccer career.

She, sort of, was a spectator.

“I was born into it,” said the Dowagiac High School senior soccer player. “When my mom (Linda) was pregnant with me when she was the AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) coach for my brother. I was always there out on the field.”

It didn’t take long after Christina was born for her to follow her older brother Sam and older sister Chelsea and actually play on a soccer field. She started playing soccer for the AYSO when she was four years old. She continued to play soccer at Dowagiac Middle School and in a travel league for four years.

The last four years, Preston has been a four-year starter for the Dowagiac High School girls soccer team.

During her freshman and sophomore years, Preston played on the wing in the midfield. As a junior and senior she has been a center-midfielder.

“I’ve definitely gotten better over the years,” Preston said.

Preston has scored one goal and added four assists this spring for the Chieftains.

“She brings an overall knowledge of the game to the team,” said Dowagiac girls soccer coach Ryan Haines. “I put her everywhere on the field and she knows what each position does and what she needs to do. I put her on defense, defensive center-mid, attacking mid and forward.”

As a senior, Preston has had to bring her skills and her leadership to a young soccer team.

Preston and Sarah Long are the lone seniors on the team, which dropped to 2-13 after falling to Edwardsburg, 8-0, on Monday.

“It’s rough, especially being a senior and my last year and having a young team,” Preston said. “But, you get through it. You have good games and bad games. This was just a bad game (Monday against Edwardsburg).

“I tell the girls to think positive. If you think positive, you do positive things.”

Did Preston ever think about not playing soccer her final high school year because of the youth on the team?

“No matter what I was going to play,” she said. “I love the sport.

“I definitely have to be a team leader. I have to be really controlling of everything
because I’m the oldest one out there and I have the most experience. You have to make sure everyone is doing what they suppose to be doing and make sure everyone’s attitude is good.”

Preston was providing encouragement to her teammates after a serious injury to Dowagiac soccer player Katlyn Briney against Edwardsburg. Briney fractured her femur in the second half of the match.

“It was really emotional,” Preston said. “All the girls were freaking out. But, it happens, you stil have to play.

“I’ve been there and done that. I stretched my ACL my sophomore year in the district finals.”

Haines, who’s in his first year coaching the girls soccer team at Dowagiac, is happy he got the opportunity to coach Preston.

“Christina’s awesome,” Haines said. “She knew coming into this year it was going to be a struggle for this team and it was going to be a rebuilding year. I needed her to help me guide the team and get the young girls ready for the future.

“She’s definitely going to be missed next year. She’s the heart of the team that keeps us all together.”