Oct. 28, 2009
Rice senior midfielder Shelley Wong is solely responsible for her success on the pitch and in the classroom, yet she selflessly gives the unique culture of Rice soccer significant credit for her accomplishments.
Her honors have been plentiful. Wong is a two-time Conference USA Commissioner Medalist (2006, '08), a two-time C-USA Academic Honor Roll honoree (2007-08), a C-USA First Team All-Academic Team member (2008) and a member of the 2007 Academic All-District VI Team according to ESPN The Magazine. A student-athlete must be a self-starter to accumulate such a bounty of accolades, especially as an Economics/Managerial Studies double major. But Wong acknowledges that the will to succeed of her teammates, several of whom are exceptional students, helps bolster her quest for academic excellence.
"It's a delicate balance," Wong said. "We're so into soccer and it's a huge part of our lives but ... our team is just really driven outside of soccer. We have so many people who have so many high aspirations outside of Rice. So many of us are so driven to succeed on and off the field. Knowing my teammates and how many things they have on their platter is really impressive.
"You'll find in our team a lot of perfectionists and a lot of girls who don't like to fail, and they're not ever really used to failing. It's a standard (of excellence) for a lot of the girls on our team. We have a standard on the soccer field but also academically. It's really good that everyone has that because I feel it really pushes me just because that's the culture and environment we're in a lot of the time."
Wong's academic might is matched by her reputation between the lines. She earned preseason all-conference honors after pacing the Owls with nine goals last season and earning All-C-USA First Team accolades and second team All-Central Region recognition by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and SoccerBuzz. Wong was the Owls' offensive MVP, completing a natural ascension that included her being named the team's impact freshman in 2006 before being one of six players to start every game in 2007, a season in which she played 90.5 percent of the Owls' 1,954 minutes. Wong gradually increased her point total from five as a freshman to 11 as a sophomore to 19 as a junior.
Tangible success has eluded Wong this season. She remains a revered workhorse, ranking fifth on the team in minutes played (1,439) and fourth in shots (24) and shots on goal (10), but Wong has yet to record a point through 18 starts. As a team the Owls have struggled to score, and as a central component on offense, Wong has drawn the attention of Rice opponents even with a shift in position from midfield to forward.
But true to her team-first nature, Wong is more pleased with the Owls' improved play of late (3-1-1 over their last five games) than any individual setbacks. Her senior season will close for a happy ending.
"We've definitely picked it up a lot," Wong said. "Basically all the teams that we've been playing the last two or three weeks are actually scared to go against us because on paper they should be beating us but they know that when it comes down to on the field, we're just as good."
Armed with a winning attitude on and off the field, Shelley Wong is positioned to become one of Tomorrow's Leaders.