Texas A&M Student-Athlete Spotlight: Rachel Shipley
Courtesy: Big12Sports.com
          Release: 10/21/2010
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By Sarah Grimmer
Big 12 Campus Correspondent

Standout senior midfielder Rachel Shipley is about to lace up her cleats for the last time, as the Aggies prepare to take on Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in their last two home games of the regular season. Having had a phenomenal career, she takes a moment to reflect on the past four years.

"It has just flown by," Shipley said. "I can't believe it's almost over. It has been amazing and I have been so blessed to have this opportunity. I've always loved A&M growing up and my family grew up here too so coming here was unimaginable. I never dreamed I would have to opportunity I have had at such an awesome school. I love the girls. Every single year we just have such a great team with great chemistry. Coaching staff has been so supportive and really smart so we have been very successful with them. I have just loved every single minute of it. I don't think many other schools in the country have teams like this and have the environment we have here and the fan support. It has just been amazing."

Looking at her statistics, you certainly get an idea of how amazing these past four years have really been.

Her freshman year, she made 12 starts and clocked playing time in all 24 of A&M's matches. She recorded 37 shots, 18 on frame, averaging 1.54 shots per game. She led her freshman class in scoring with two goals and clenched the team's third place spot for assists at six. Shipley made the Big 12 All-Newcomer team as well as earned A&M's own team award of "Newcomer of the Year." More recognition came from Soccer Buzz, naming her to the All-Freshman Central Region Team.

"I have grown with more confidence," Rachel said. "I know my freshman year I was very timid and we had an outstanding senior class, we had eight or nine seniors that were amazing and very intimidating. I have grown into more of a leadership role, just trying to make all the other girls feel comfortable and not intimidated by any means. I just try to be a leader and be encouraging to my teammates."
 
During her sophomore year, she only continued to improve and started at midfielder for 21 of 24 matches. She came in second on the team with 20 points, including five goals and a team-high 10 assists. She netted a goal and added an assist in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Texas State and contributed 10th assist at North Carolina in the quarterfinals.

Rachel was honored at A&M's annual CHAMPS Award Banquet as a Texas A&M/Verizon Outstanding Athletics Scholar which this finance major earned by maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPR. She attended the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team camp and was named to Soccer Buzz All-Central Region first team. Shipley was also recognized on the Academic All-Big 12 first team and was Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.

"She has been a role model, not just to the thousands of kids who adore her in the crowd but a role model to her teammates and the players who come into this program as a standard bearer as the way things should be,"  Head Coach G Guirrieri said.

Shipley's soccer dominance gained even more strength her junior year. She started in 23 matches and played in all 25 of A&M's games. Rachel played for the U.S. U-23 Women's National Team in England along with attending their camp. She also made All-Big 12 first team along with the NSCAA All-Central Region first team.

Soccer News Net Player of the Week, TopDrawerSoccer Women's College Soccer Team of the Season and Academic All-Big 12 first team. Rachel also made ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District second team and CollegeSoccer360.com's Primetime Performer of the Week. She ended the season ranked third in the Big 12 in points, assists and shots, leading her team with 27 points, nine assists and 87 shots, 33 of which were on goal. Shipley also received NSCAA Academic All-Central Region, NSCAA/Adidas Women's College Scholar All-American team and was recognized once more at A&M's annual CHAMPS Award Banquet as Texas A&M/Verizon Outstanding Athletics Scholar.

"I tell myself to just enjoy it, enjoy every minute," Shipley said. "Soccer isn't life, it doesn't define me but it does bring me joy. I'm not going to put pressure on myself to perform or to score a certain amount goal or any attain any stats. I'm not thinking about that at all, but rather just to enjoy every minute and just be happy and encouraging to my teammates, coaches and always have a smile on my face."

Wrapping up her final season with the Aggies is hard to swallow as it has been such a big part of her life.

 "It is so emotional and hard to think that it is actually here," Shipley said. "I know we have been talking about senior night for a while but it didn't hit me that it is this Friday and that it is my last two regular season games at home. It's overwhelming. I'm not going to let it put any pressure on my game; I'm just going to enjoy every minute. That is all you can do, just enjoy it and play your heart out on the field and really cherish it, it has absolutely flown by."

Her senior season has been just as remarkable and it isn't over yet. She was named TopDrawerSoccer Player of the Week as well as Big 12 Player of the Week. So far Rachel has had seven goals, four assists, and 18 points. She has taken 34 shots, 15 of which have been on goal. Shipley is also a current Lowe's finalist which is a prestigious award given out to an athlete that has demonstrated notable achievement in the community, classroom, character and competition.

"I think her impact on the field is easily seen on the statistics that have come about since she has been here," Guirrieri said. "In our wins, in the goals, in her being a person that has had an impact on our success getting to and through post season. I really think that just as big or bigger impact has been made by her off the field, living her life as an example of how to do things the right way, how to be a conscientious person, how to be a good friend, someone that people can depend upon. All those things are vitally important when you are talking about building a championship culture and she has been part of that."

"My whole team; they have been such an inspiration." Shipley said, as she begins to tear up. "Seeing them work hard every day makes you want to work hard and be the best player you can, just for each other. We all hold each other accountable and we know what we can accomplish with the team that we have. I love my teammates to death. I just hope that they saw me as a great teammate and friend on and off the field. I hope they continue to carry the close bond we have made over the years."

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