When you hear of Middlebury College, located less than 100 miles from the Canadian border, in Middlebury, Vermont, you would most likely associate their name with their academic status as one of the top Liberal Arts colleges in the US. What is lesser known but equally as impressive is their strong athletics program. The women’s soccer team finished their championship-worthy season as second in the country for Division III.

The Final Four team finished with a 19-2-3 record, the best in Panthers’ history. This incredible performance was led by senior defensive midfielder Clare Robinson (Woodlawn ‘15). Clare was named first team All-New England Region selection and All-NESCAC player this past fall. In addition, the United Soccer Coaches organization named her an All-American second team player. Clare will be graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. She is planning to move to Boston or New York City for a post-graduate career in the field of data analytics and market research.

One key aspect as to how Clare and her teammates achieved this seasons’ success was because of the leadership contribution of the upperclassmen. Their coach constantly drilled the motto “We before me” to remind them to play as a whole before trying to meet their personal expectations. There is no hierarchy on the team, meaning a freshman is just as important as a senior. With this philosophy in mind, it allowed the team to have strong chemistry, competitive practices, and to stay in good spirits of wanting to win as a whole.

During Clare’s senior year playing for the Woodlawn Trailblazers, her favorite memory was winning the state championship title in 2015. She reminisced about the time when the players gathered at the Barn before the commute to Raleigh. The girls got to decorate their cars with green and white markers and sent off balloons. As the team was warming up, members of the Woodlawn family began to arrive in support of the ‘Blazers. “It was so much fun to win, but I remember feeling a great sense of gratitude for the Woodlawn family that came to watch. It’s still a memory I have to this day because it speaks highly of the Woodlawn family in all aspects of life; they are supportive, generous, kind, willing to go the extra mile for every student and faculty there, and most importantly a family that continues well beyond your time in high school.”

Woodlawn’s encouraging community and preparation is what supported Clare’s transition from high school to college and gave her the skills to excel in both the classroom and soccer field. Woodlawn encourages students to play as many sports as you want or join a variety of clubs even if you are new to them. “Because of this atmosphere, I came into college ready to spend my free time in the sports world. I was ready to cheer on every other sports team on campus on the weekends and weeknights, I was ready to constantly be in season while also having to manage workload, and I was ready to support my friends in their a cappella groups and stand up comedy groups. It was the norm for me to constantly be running from one event to the other, meeting professors in between classes, getting to practice on time, and turning in my assignments on time.” The faculty and staff at Woodlawn are so close to the students that students will plan to hang out in Woods Hall with your teachers, or stay after school in their rooms, or even just have long conversations at lunch. “I truly left Woodlawn feeling that all my teachers were more my friends than they were my teachers. It allowed me to learn how to approach a professor in college, how to ask for extra help, and how to put faith in my professor that they want to see me succeed. Because Woodlawn creates a sense of family and trust between teachers and students, I went into college prepared to get to know my professors just as well as I knew my teachers at Woodlawn. And the best part – I wasn’t scared to put myself out there with each of my professors because of the confidence Woodlawn gave me.”

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