When the final whistle blew to conclude the Columbus Eagles home finale Saturday afternoon, not only did it signify the end of the game, but also the end of an era for the franchise. Midfielder Mary Seiffert’s career with the Eagles was at an end.
With an ice pack wrapped around her left ankle and visible tears in her eyes, Seiffert prepared to exit Otterbein’s Memorial Stadium for the final time. Seiffert and her husband Daniel are heading for a new adventure at season’s end, both were hired to coach the women’s soccer program at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana.
Seiffert is considered by many to be one of the founding members of the Eagles. During her tenure with the club, she witnessed radical changes. The midfielder recalls times when the team would only get six players to a practice at a time, but she always remained optimistic that the club would grow and progress.
“I was excited about the core group that we had,” said Seiffert. “From day one when we were struggling a little bit, I kept thinking that it was going to get better. That it would just keep getting better. We could build a culture where people wanted to come.”
Seiffert calls a time where she was sitting around with teammates Amber Kern and Larissa Najjar thinking about who they could recruit to bring into the Eagles family, even if the it could cost them a starting job. The recruiting paid off, as the roster and talent increased exponentially.
In 2017, the Eagles broke a franchise record for wins and points in a season. A mark that lasted less than a year as Columbus surpassed its own record with help from an impressive group of players that found their way to Central Ohio. These players have the potential to leave a lasting impact on the Eagles franchise. That has the former team captain very excited for the club’s future.
“Ashley (Gogolin) has come in and made a huge impact on our team, even just her joy and where she fits in chemistry wise, so has Micaela (Powers),” said the former captain. “You look at players like Amber (Kern), Kelly (DeNiro), Lisa (Nouaensengsy), Rachel (MacLeod), all those girls are making such an impact. Even Summer (Bourcier), she’s become an awesome leader.”
Another reason for the Eagles’ continued success has been the increased experience on the coaching staff. Mary’s husband and current Eagles head coach Daniel Seiffert was hired in December 2017.
Mary admits it’s a bit interesting having her husband coach the team. While both parties discuss tactics on the pitch, sometimes the discussion makes its way back home with the husband and wife team.
“We bring it back home,” said Seiffert. “It helps that I’m a coach too because we love talking tactics. We might not say much or communicate once we arrive to the stadium, but we get to talk about a lot of that stuff when we get home.”
Despite their love for the game, both Mary and Daniel have a familiar phrase they live by: God first, family second, soccer third.
“It’s never easy. You love the game and part of it is that it becomes your family too,” the midfielder explained. “I think in everything that we do, we always try to keep God first and foremost, family is always so important because you never know how much time you have with your family, and then soccer is third. If you are giving it your all in those three things, you can still give a lot to soccer too.”
As the club continues to grow and evolve, Seiffert had to make one of the toughest decisions of her career earlier this season. When Daniel and Mary told the team they would be leaving at the end of the WPSL campaign, Mary award her vacated captain’s armband to outside back Kern.
“Knowing her heart from last year to this year, knowing that she was going to be dedicated, she’s been there for pretty much everything,” Seiffert said of her teammate. “On the field, she gives everything she has, she’s a good vocal leader and just stepped into the role. It was almost a no-brainer. I was very honored to pass that band onto her and I think she’s done a very great job.”
Over the last four years, Seiffert has a club grow from nothing to something. The team’s roster is consistently full, fans around Columbus are coming out to games and the Eagles are becoming a thing in town. With all the memories she’s made over this time, there is one that will stand out above the rest.
“Looking out there and seeing everything that’s happened, and seeing how far its come, I think this is my favorite moment because I get to look back and see how far it has come,” Seiffert said.