Senior Phoebe Wilke to continue soccer
career in Wales
By Daalny Meyer, Reporter
VHS senior Phoebe Wilke has been playing soccer since first grade when she decided to try the sport she’d enjoyed watching her brother play. She went on to play through high school, joining the VHS girls soccer team as a freshman. Now, Wilke intends to take her soccer career to college at Cardiff Metropolitan in Wales.
In her time at VHS, Wilke was noticed by both her coach and her teammates for her strengths as a player and as a leader.
“I remember [Wilke] reffing my games a lot [when I was younger], and I remember scrimmaging her a couple of times. But when I really started playing with her was last year in my freshman year,” varsity co-captain Linnea Heuschert said. “She’s a fantastic player. She’s fast, she’s skilled, but overall, it’s her mentality on the field. She wants [to win] more than anybody.”
Coach Scott Nicolino, who’s been coaching girls soccer at VHS for seven years and boys soccer for eight, coached Wilke for all four years of her high school career.
“She has very good skills, a tremendous knowledge of the game and its nuances, [and] she is a fantastic communicator on the field,” Nicolino said. “As a freshman, Phoebe took control of our defense as our sweeper. That’s a huge responsibility to undertake as a freshman, [and] one that not many are able to do successfully. She was able to do it with ease and helped get us to the state tournament that season.”
In soccer, the sweeper is behind the defensive line, before the goalie, and helps with communication between the goalie and the players. The sweeper also gives instructions to the other defensive players, and acts as another line of defense against goals. Wilke enjoys the position of sweeper and the leadership role that accompanies it.
“You get to see the whole field and you’re kind of calling out directions for everybody. It definitely makes it feel like I’m in a leading position,” she said.
Wilke’s favorite part about participating in soccer is the team atmosphere and the sense of connection that forms while playing together.
“I also do track and with that, it’s really independent,” she said. “If you mess up, it’s just on you. But with soccer, you have ten other people on the field to support you, so it feels a lot more comforting.”
As a teammate and fellow team leader, Heuschert has found Wilke’s support on the team very helpful.
“She always wants to make everyone feel included and feel good about what they are doing. She helps me become a better player, and just wants me to succeed overall,” Heuschert said. “I remember, during our 2021 season, someone on our team got a yellow card and I got really mad and she just [came] up and touched my shoulder. And I just remember that calming me down right away.”
When thinking about her post-high school plans, Wilke hopes to find a way to continue playing soccer while pursuing her other interests.
“I knew that I wanted to play in college, but it was also important to be able to do ceramics and fine arts and in the U.S., there weren’t a lot of options for that,” she said. “Then we got reached out to by school in the U.K., and it kind of opened up that possibility.”
Now, having decided to attend Cardiff Metropolitan in Wales, Wilke is looking forward to the different atmosphere of European soccer.
“Over there, football is their sport. I feel like here we have American football and baseball and everything, so it’s definitely going to be a different culture,” she said. “I’m not going to have anybody over there, but I think that soccer is going to be a good way of making friends because you really build that family part.”
Nicolino fully supports Wilke’s plan for soccer and school in the future.
“She loves soccer and any time a player can continue with something they love like that after high school, that is a great thing!” Nicolino said. “The percentage of high school players who get an opportunity to continue playing the sport they love in college is very small. I’m proud of her for following her dreams.”