Friday, June 17, 2011

Player Profile - Monica Gauck, #7 (Part 1)

I always think of Monica as quarterback.  The quarterback is the on-field leader, the one person who best understands strategy, who knows every player's assignment.  The quarterback is in charge.  The quarterback's performance is most important of all because she handles the ball on every single play.  If I'm coach, my best player is playing quarterback.  That's Monica, the best player on the Outlaws team. 

But Monica is only a part time quarterback.  To her credit.

Monica grew up a competitor.  She took on her brother Darren, two years older, in "knee football" on a gymnastic mat in their home in Iowa Falls, Iowa.  Her younger sister Allison was conscripted to referee the competitions.  Younger brother Chris enjoyed watching Monica nearly whip Darren - and wondered (but never tried) if he could beat her.  When the weather permitted, she and Darren went outside and battled for pass receptions as her dad played quarterback.  She had another brother, Rex, ten years younger and a "gentle game player" who respected sportsmanship.
Monica's mom is a musician - flute - and gave lessons in the home.  She tried to interest Monica in music and Monica did play the trombone through high school.  Monica says "I was just adequate"  but mom has a different opinion - she says Monica brought tears to her eyes at solo performance competitions.  Mom is a serious golfer.  They live near a lake in Iowa where the weather isn't like in Texas.  If it is 30 degrees and sunny, mom says it's a great day for golf.

Her dad was a gymnast at the University of Minnesota and "was very good".  He kept a gymnastic mat in the home which served as the football field when Monica and Darren played their home-made game.  After playing, "we'd roll the mat up and put it in the closet.  Or roll my sister up in it and put her in the closet." 

A story about her dad - he was doing trampoline gymnastics during a basketball game when the tramp collapsed and he broke his foot.  He ran out of the gym, ignoring the pain, so no one would know he was hurt.   Monica showed similar toughness years later playing hurt for the Outlaws, sneaking back into the game after coach had sidelined her with cracked ribs.  At 5'7" and 135 pounds she is often smaller than opponents - so being tough is an asset.

That's Monica in the black doing battle with
three defenders.
I wonder if Monica remembers this particular play.  Looks painful. 
Toughness isn't the only trait she inherited from her dad.  He recognized early on that she shared his love of competition and he encouraged her in her sports.  In high school Monica played basketball, softball, volleyball, cross country, track.  She went on to play basketball at Casper (Wyoming) Community College on a team ranked eleventh nationally among junior colleges.  She won a basketball scholarship to Southwest Texas State University where she also played softball as a walk on.  After college she played in the Texas Hoop-it-up tournaments and was selected to try out for the WNBA  (Women's National Basketball Association).

In Austin she heard some women talking about playing for the Austin Rage women's professional football team.  Monica asked one of the players about trying out.  The player gave Monica a quick eye-scan and said "I don't think so."  Monica was shocked by the put down, speechless.  Then someone told her there is another team, the Outlaws. 

The Outlaws signed her up - and ten years later she remains a team leader and star player.

Because of her outstanding athletic talent, Monica has been able to play where ever she was needed, offense or defense.  She was a running back when I first started covering Outlaw's games.  I recall hearing the public address announcer calling her name over and over as she escaped tacklers for big gains and often touchdowns.

I don't recall if she escaped this time but there are
only two un-blocked tacklers - makes it about an even chance
Monica went on to score.

This did go for a touchdown - no way they're going to catch
her.  She scored at least twice in this game.

In my next posting I'll cover more about Monica, her role as spiritual team leader, her ability to play different positions on the field.  And how to pronounce

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