Set in motion
Position shift paves way for Groom's offensive outburst
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 23:10
Contrary to popular belief, some people around the nation — clearly not from Texas — are oblivious to Texas A&M. Coming out of high school, this was the case for junior center-attacking midfielder Shea Groom.
Although Groom may not have been familiar with the Aggies, A&M was well aware of her. As a junior, she led her high school squad to a 2010 Missouri State Championship. She was named the Gatorade Missouri State Player of the year in 2010 and again as a senior in 2011. As the No. 10 prospect on Top Drawer Soccer’s Top 100 list, Groom drew heavy attention from the A&M coaching staff, among many others.
Growing up in the small town of Liberty, Mo. — with a population of just more than 29,000 people — Groom knew she wanted to use her athletic abilities to experience life outside of Missouri. When head coach G Guerrieri and the A&M coaching staff brought Groom on campus for the first time, it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with Aggieland.
“I just kind of fell in love with the school, fell in love with the atmosphere of the 12th Man,” Groom said. “The big thing for me was just the soccer atmosphere, because you don’t get that a lot of places for women’s soccer. Playing on Ellis Field is just a different kind of experience. There are always fans there no matter what day of the week it is or what time of the day it is. I also obviously loved the Aggie football games and the band — you get the chills.”
Groom’s athleticism extends beyond the soccer pitch. At Liberty High School, she lettered in soccer, track and basketball and despite being named All-State in the 100-meter hurdles, Groom ultimately stuck with soccer due to the leadership opportunities and atmosphere team sports create.
“I always grew up playing soccer more than the other sports,” Groom said. “I like team sports a little bit better just because there’s chances to be a leader and to enjoy something with other people, and I love being around other people. I like track a lot, but it’s also very individual and I like the team atmosphere. In soccer I’m able to use all my athletic ability, not just my running.”
Groom has started nine of the 11 matches for A&M this year, missing two due to injuries. In the absence of last year’s leading scorer, junior forward Annie Kunz, Groom has shouldered the scoring load, netting a team and career-high eight goals on the season.
Groom said she believes her success on the field comes from a combination of her recent position change from outside forward to the center attacking midfielder, as well as playing at the top form of her career. Her move to the center has opened up space and provided ample opportunities to get shots on goal, in which she leads the team with 21.
“As one of our captains and leaders on the field and off the field, I feel very blessed to have her,” Guerrieri said. “She is someone who is really only just now coming into her own. She’s got a great skill set and I think it’s one of those things that once she starts to hit her stride, then there is no stopping her.”
Groom hit that stride against the University of Massachusetts, a game during which she scored her first career hat trick en route to scoring the team’s only goals in a 3-1 victory.
“She’s got a fire in her belly, a fire of competitiveness, competiveness just to be the very best she can be,” Guerrieri said. “As a coach, you dream about having players like that, that have that ‘it’ within them and are always looking to do the things that it takes to be their very best.”
Groom has proved her ability off the field as well as on. In 2012, Groom was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll and earned a spot on the All-SEC team as a sophomore. Even with her success in the classroom as a recreational parks and tourism sciences major, Groom said she would be willing to pursue a career in professional soccer and her lifelong goal of representing the U.S. on the women’s national team.
Through high school, Groom played with the U.S. girl’s national team and attended the women’s team camps from 2009-2011. However, for the time being, the focus of Groom and the Aggies lies on their ensuing conference games, their drive toward their first SEC Championship, and ultimately, a national
“[Groom] is one of those players that you always can count on,” Kunz said. “She is the kind of person that always gives 110 percent in anything that she does. Whether it’s school, soccer, anything — [Groom] will always give it her