Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
As Oklahoma Christian University’s 2013 soccer season came to a close on Monday afternoon, the Eagles waved farewell to cornerstone athletes in both the men’s and women’s programs.
Seniors Rigel Mathis and Addie Ryan may have removed their Eagles jerseys for the final time, but their contributions to the university both on and off the field will ensure that their years were well spent.
In the blur that is the final days of a career, Mathis took a moment to look back on his time as an Eagle.
“I would sum up my college career as a roller coaster of reality: A lot of ups and downs, success and disappointment,” Mathis said. “Overall, it was a good experience and I matured a lot as a person and a player.”
Mathis is one of many Oklahoma Christian athletes who have made their way north to Edmond from the talent pool in North Texas. A resident of Arlington, Mathis led Mansfield Timberview High School to the third round of the Texas Class 5A playoffs his senior year, earning All-District honors in the process.
A sports, wellness and recreation management major, Mathis played in all 18 games his freshman year, making an impact from the first moment he stepped onto Oklahoma Christian’s campus.
In his sophomore campaign, Mathis played in 14 games, a starter in half of those as the Eagles went 10-6-4 in what would prove to be their final season in the NAIA.
Mathis’ junior season was highlighted by four starts and appearances in 11 additional games. The defenseman ushered in the NCAA Division II era assisting his team in an 8-9 introductory year.
This season, the senior and his teammates have endured an injury-riddled season to post a 4-11-1 record.
“I’m disappointed about my senior year,” Mathis said. “I had hopes of having a postseason since I was injured and missed about half of the season. We were plagued with injuries and overall it was basically a growing year. It just sucks that it was my last one.”
In his time at Oklahoma Christian, Mathis has also served as the men’s soccer ambassador for Eagles for Christ, Oklahoma Christian’s student-initiated Christian athlete organization.
Mathis credits his teammates for the spiritual growth he enjoyed during his time at Oklahoma Christian.
“[My teammates] are my brothers here and my brothers in Christ,” Mathis said. “It was a blessing to be able to have a college soccer career. It was on this campus that I became a Christian and started pursuing a relationship with Jesus. If it wasn’t for Cion Samuel’s courage to give me the gospel I don’t know where or what I would be doing.”
Addie Ryan is a local talent, making the voyage from Edmond Memorial High School to don the colors of the Lady Eagles.
“I decided to attend OC for a few reasons,” Ryan said. “The school being close to home was a major factor in my decision making. Also, OC’s soccer program had a good reputation, and I knew I was joining a great school.”
In her debut season Ryan rushed into action, playing in all 18 games and recording two goals against Southwestern Oklahoma State University as a freshman for the Lady Eagles.
After a stint at Colorado Christian University her sophomore year, Ryan returned to Oklahoma Christian her junior year and lit a fire once more. As a junior, Ryan started in all 16 games, recorded 34 shots, nine of which were on goal, and tallied one goal and one assist in a brilliant return to her home state.
This season, Ryan stood as the leader for the Lady Eagles, utilizing both her commanding leadership abilities as well as her prominent athletic ability in serving as the cornerstone for a young Lady Eagles team.
“I have always been trusted by my coach, Randall Robison, and I thank him for this opportunity,” Ryan said. “I always loved the feeling of competition and leading the team as a captain.”
Robison, who served as head women’s soccer coach for the entirety of Ryan’s career, spoke volumes as to Ryan’s impact as a captain both on the field and off for the Lady Eagles.
“Addie has been the face of our team for the last couple years,” Robison said. “She is one of the most hard-working players I’ve coached on any of the teams. Addie brings a great enthusiasm to the field every day; the only way Addie knows to play is to simply give her best every minute. Addie could play for any team in our conference and she has grown into a wonderful young lady.”
In her second-to-last career game for the Lady Eagles against the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Ryan put her final stamp on Oklahoma Christian women’s soccer with her second career two-goal game.
Standing as her only goals of the season, largely due to her defensive role for the majority of the season, Ryan all-but-singlehandedly led her team to their second Heartland Conference win of the season.
“I loved my senior season,” Ryan said. “There’s been a different environment which has really helped us develop.”
As the curtains closed on Ryan’s career, the captain added to her final chapter – honored as the NCCAA Student-Athlete of the Week in the final week of her senior season.
This is the second player of the week award for Ryan this season, as she was also honored as the Heartland Conference Defensive Player of the Week in early October.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride with some great years and some hard years,” Ryan said. “But I have loved my time as a Lady Eagle.”