The work that college athletes put into their sport is more than most people realize. In addition to the years that athletes have been perfecting their skills, they continue to put in work once they reach the university level.
For University of Utah soccer player Carly Nelson, her hard work is finally paying off. This junior goalkeeper from Lindon, Utah, was awarded the Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week during the first weekend of October.
“It’s good to know that your hard work pays off, and to perform on the field and to step up for my team is always nice,” Nelson said about her award.
Nelson received this honor after earning two shutouts against the University of Washington and Washington State. She had a season-high nine saves against Washington.
Since then, Nelson has recorded another shutout against Oregon State and she currently has four straight shutouts in Pac-12 play.
Overall on the season, Nelson’s numbers in the goal are top-notch. She currently is holding down the second spot in the Pac-12 for saves with a .909 percentage, as well as leading the league with four shutouts. She is second with 59 saves, and her goals-against average is third in the league at .57 per game.
For Nelson, being in Utah means being close to family. She is from just an hour south of Salt Lake, where her parents still live. Nelson also has three sisters who live near her.
Nelson is the youngest of four. Two of her sisters attended the U. Her family is very close and Nelson takes every opportunity she can to see her sisters.
“I was committed here before they decided to go here, so I think that I influenced them to come to the U,” said Nelson.
Nelson has settled in at the U where she is double majoring in psychology and marketing. She chose both of these majors because she interacts with other people in them.
Talking to people comes naturally to Nelson, as her position on the field requires her to constantly be chatting with her teammates. She needs to be a leader on the field and direct her teammates from the box.
“This year, you can see how much she has grown and matured, and it shows up in her communication and her confidence more than anything technical,” head coach Rich Manning said. “She’s making good decisions, she’s a leader on the field. She’s always been a super hard worker, conscientious, she’s really well driven, she wants to be great.”
Nelson has become a strong force in the goal for the Utes, as she hasn’t allowed a goal in four games. She has earned every title that has been awarded to her.
“She’s a great example. She works as hard as anybody and she takes care of business as far as her recovery and nutrition. She is super conscientious as far as being a role model,” said Manning. “The goalkeeping position is important from a communication and leadership standpoint and she’s improved by leaps and bounds from her sophomore to her junior year. She knows what she needs to do, and she is able to communicate it now.”
Although Nelson is riding high right now, the battle continues. The Utes still have five important conference games to get through and they will be facing some tough opponents.
Of course for Nelson, the hard work doesn’t stop here. As accomplished as she is already, she is only a junior and still has another year of eligibility on this team. She acknowledges that she still has room for improvement, and she is willing to put in the work to get to the next level.
“She [Carly] reads a lot of those inspirational books and how to books to be a better person and be a better athlete and be a better student, and she’s super driven in that way,” said Manning. “For me, the rewarding thing is to see someone that works so hard and is so driven make a breakthrough.”
Nelson is a driven and motivated athlete, and her hard work shines through both on and off of the field. However, she is sure to make the effort to step away from soccer when necessary.
Nelson and her family enjoy doing outdoor activities, such as snowboarding and hiking. In addition being outside, Nelson enjoys singing and playing her guitar when she isn’t playing on the soccer field.
“I love soccer and I put my heart into it, but also you have to have things outside of soccer that you love so that you can have balance.”