STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Now that senior Ashlie Stokes’ final season of collegiate soccer is over, Stokes has turned her attention to InfoSports’ 15th Annual Pro Soccer Combine.
Stokes, a senior advertising major, was recently invited to the tryout that exposes collegiate athletes to professional scouts and coaches from across the country.
“I’m just trying to stay in shape and just going to make sure I still work out, still getting touches on the ball,” Stokes said.
The combine will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in January.
Once she gets there, Stokes knows she needs to be at her best from the start, as she only has three days to prove herself.
“I think making an initial impact right when I get there will be important,” Stokes said. “Whether that’s being vocal, trying to be a leader, ‘cause it’s always hard playing with new girls, new teammates.”
Drake women’s soccer coach, Lindsey Horner, weighed in on what Stokes will have to do in order to succeed at the combine.
“Ashlie will need to demonstrate that she can fill a need for one of the teams,” Horner said. “She will have to perform at a high level and do so consistently.”
Horner said Stokes is the first Bulldog to be invited to the combine in her time coaching at Drake.
Fellow senior Tori Flynn played with Stokes for the last four years, and has high hopes and respect for her teammate.
“We’re all just really excited, really proud of her and got her back,” Flynn said. “We know she can do it. She’s just one of the best players at her position. She does her job well, and not many can do it like her. She’s willing to give her body, sacrifice everything to get her job done.”
Although Stokes is excited and hopeful for a future in soccer, she remembers her roots and how she got to this point.
“If I were to make a team or play overseas, I think a lot of that goes back to Drake and how much they’ve prepared me for it,” Stokes said.
Flynn touted Stokes’ ability on the field, both as a player and a leader for the Bulldogs squad.
“She’s a teammate you can always count on for sure,” Flynn said. “She puts her heart into the game, 100 percent. When things aren’t going our way, you can always count on her to keep giving 100 percent and not letting her teammates slack off either.”
Flynn recalled a moment when Stokes proved her talents on the field, showing poise and her ability to lead.
“Our junior year, we were playing Loyola, and we had to win this game to get into the final four of the MVC tournament,” Flynn said. “It went into PKs and the crowd was kind of giving Ashlie a hard time when she went up to take her PK. And she made it, and she just kind of looked over to them and was like, ‘Yep, what do you think of that?’ I think that just got the team going and was like, ‘Okay, we got this.’”
This victory is one of many Stokes has been a part of at Drake, and one of many memories of her collegiate career.
“The whole experience has been a crazy ride,” Stokes said. “The big wins we have are always going to be memories of mine, and the teammates that are going to become my best friends later in life. It’s just all a pretty unreal experience.”
While her collegiate playing days are finished, Stokes is optimistic about her prospects to continue playing the sport she loves.
“I’m going to try to put off the real world for as long as I can,” she said. “I’m gonna try to play soccer as long as my body holds up. Then after that, I’ll figure out a career later.”