Florida State's soccer team recently started its training for the upcoming season. It's certainly not for the lighthearted either. And it also features plenty of sun, contact drills and conditioning.
The Seminoles are currently meeting three times each day, starting with conditioning at 7 a.m. and followed by afternoon and evening scrimmages. After a weekend reprieve, FSU scales back to two-a-day practices in preparation for its preseason opener at Georgia Aug. 23.
"Your legs are telling you no but your heart is telling you yes," junior midfielder Amber Tollefson said Friday afternoon. "It's definitely a hard week, extremely demanding and one that's both mentally and physically taxing. But as a team, collectively we all know that to get through this also can be very rewarding."
Indeed. The Seminoles, coached by Pat Baker, return eight starters and 16 letterwinners from last year's squad that established an incredible 76 records and program firsts, including the best record (15-8-1) in team history and the program's first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference championship game appearance.
Tollefson, from Boca Raton, played an important role in the Seminoles' success.
She was just the fourth Seminole named to the All-ACC team, earning second-team honors, and the fifth FSU player named to the All-ACC Tournament team. Voted by her teammates as a captain this season, Tollefson scored six goals, had six assists and totaled 18 points in 2001. She also recorded three game-winning goals and two game-winning assists.
That's all dandy, but the personable Tollefson says the Seminoles are not satisfied with past standards or individual accomplishments. They are reaching for higher goals.
"Each season we want to surpass our previous year's accomplishments," said Tollefson, who was trying to relax before heading back out to the Seminoles' second scrimmage of the day. "As a team, our goal is to simply to outwork our opponents, to be more fit than the other team during the last 15 minutes of a game. That's so important."
Tollefson, who has played soccer since she was 6 years old and was groomed through the ranks of highly respected Team Boca, selected the Seminoles over Auburn, Miami and Florida. Ironically, he had two brothers who attended UF and "they weren't too happy about my decision," Tollefson laughed. However, Tollefson knew FSU was the right choice "the moment I stepped on campus. My heart told me to come here and I had a lot of faith in what coach Baker wanted to do with this program. He's an incredible motivator. I knew I belonged here."
Tollefson also knows what the Seminoles are capable of this season - and that's to pick up where they left off a year ago.
Quick in tight spaces, Tollefson recorded two goals in the Seminoles' biggest regular season road win in program history last year at No. 7 Clemson. During FSU's run to the ACC Championship finals, Tollefson was second on the team in points (4), second in goals (1), tied for the team lead in assists (2), second in shots (4) and first in shots on goal (3).
After a summer break of surfing, traveling and kicking back on the beach, Tollefson and her teammates are preparing a season that features 13 home games, including playing host to the ACC Tournament in November. And Tollefson believes the team's conditioning drills are a foundation for that success.
"Everyone seems to be really meshing very well, and hard work can be contagious," said Tollefson, a communicatios major. "When everyone is working towards a common goal, that carries on to the field."
Hometown: Boca Raton
High School:Spanish River
TIDBITS: A dangerous wide midfielder who had a breakout sophomore season…garnered honorable mention All-American and first-team All-Region honors from SoccerBuzz...was named to the NSCAA's All-Region second team…just the fourth Seminole ever named to the All-ACC team when she garnered second team honors and the fifth FSU player to ever be named to the All-ACC Tournament team…voted by her teammates as a captain in 2002… scored six goals, had six assists and totaled 18 points in her second season…recorded three game-winning goals and two game winning assists… finished the year in the top five of every major statistical category for Florida State …was second on the team in game-winning goals (3), third in goals (6), fourth in points (18) and fifth in assists (6)… Tollefson scored five goals on just seven shots on goal versus ACC teams and in conference play she scored four times on four shots on frame…Florida State's most dominant player in games versus ACC teams in 2001, Tollefson led the team in points (16), tied for the lead in goals (5), was first in game-winning goals (2), first in assists (6) and first in shot percentage (.500).
HIGH SCHOOL: Four-year starter on the varsity squad... named all-county every year...Golden Boot Award winner her freshman season when she led the state champions in scoring... won her second state championship as a member of the 1998 team...Coaches Award winner during her sophomore season...offensive MVP of the 1998 state championship team...MVP and team captain during her senior year…softball varsity MVP as a freshman and Most Valuable Defensive Player her sophomore year…Florida Scholar with a 3.4 GPA...member of the Key Club...four-year member of the honor roll...semifinalist in the Universal Studios Video contest.