From Zebra to Pioneer: Lincoln’s Lauren Edwards
By: Aaron Jackson for The News Messenger
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Former Lincoln High School Fighting Zebras’ soccer player Lauren Edwards is now a Grinnell College Pioneer and has gone from being a star defender with the Zebras to a consistent starter for the Pioneers in Iowa.

Lauren started on varsity as a freshman at Lincoln, where she played 11 games and scored one goal. She went on to play varsity her junior and senior seasons adding one more goal to go along with her great defense.

She was team captain her senior year and helped lead the Lady Zebras to a 9-8-3 record and the first round of playoffs. So far, in her two seasons with the Pioneers, Edwards has started 32 of 35 games, has one goal, two assists and three shots on goal.

Grinnell has gone 19-15-3 in the two seasons Edwards has been on the squad.

“I think I’ve had to learn to be a more offensive defender and cover more ground in our system, the 4-3-3,” Edwards said about playing for Grinnell. “There are more expectations for outside backs in college, but I’ve had a lot of fun with it.”

Edwards said that in college the game is a lot more physical playing with women of different ages. The expectations for fitness and technical skills are higher.

“I definitely had to work on my passing skills when I first got to Grinnell in order to play at the same level as my teammates,” Edwards said. “I always know that I have support back home cheering me on and that really encourages me when I’ve had a bad day.”

She said that in high school she focused on her communication skills and carried that onto the college field.

She said finding a balance between schoolwork and athletics in college has been difficult. She said soccer not only takes a lot of time out of her day, but can leave her pretty physically exhausted at the end of the day.

“However, having only a certain amount of time to do work also means you are more productive in the hours you do have. I have a lot of teammates who say they get their highest grades while in season,” said Edwards. “I have classes typically from 9 (a.m.) to 3:50 (p.m.), with some breaks in between. In season, we have practice from 4:30-6:30, and then finish dinner at around 8 p.m.”

In soccer, Lauren said she is working on improving her crosses and clears, especially the ones where she has to use her left foot. She said she plays on the left side of the field making her left foot the outside foot, where being right-handed her natural tendency is to use her right foot.

But Edwards said playing for the Pioneers has been a very positive experience.

 “Playing soccer at Grinnell has been one of the best experiences of my life. The Grinnell soccer program is one giant family and I love the people I’ve met here,” Lauren said. “The women on the soccer team are incredible, and it’s so fun playing the game I love with people I’ve grown to care for and respect. We’re very intense on the field, but have a lot of fun at practices together.”

In spite of playing with girls from different parts of the country, Edwards said the chemistry among the Pioneers is even stronger than when she played with the Zebras. She said that is largely because of how much time she spends with her teammates both on and off the field.

“We also typically end up rooming together – right now I’m rooming with a fellow second-year and in my senior year my class wants to live in a house together,” said Edwards.

Lauren said she eventually wants to coach and pass the game on to future generations.

As for her advice to high school athletes who want to continue into college, Lauren recommended it for anyone able to do so.

“I would definitely recommend it. Being a part of the Grinnell women’s soccer program has been the best part of college. You gain a family and get to continue the sport you love,” she said. “It becomes harder to play organized games in your sport as you get older, so college is one of the last chances you have to play a sport you love at the same competitive level.”

It sounds like Lauren is having an incredible time in Iowa with her squad. Hopefully she can continue the great play when next season rolls around.

Congrats on getting to start and keep up the amazing work. Good luck and Go Pioneers!

_ Aaron Jackson is the sports information director at Lincoln High School