During her first season with the Oregon women’s soccer team, sophomore Marlo Sweatman never missed a game. That streak ended on Sept.18 of this year, when, instead of sharing Papé Field with her teammates, Sweatman shared some of her favorite memories with Alma Williams, her grandmother.
One of the memories may have been the first time they kicked around a soccer ball outside their home in Herndon, Virginia. While Williams played goalie, Sweatman began the career that would eventually take her to Jamaica, Cuba, Panama and eventually, Eugene, Oregon.
Williams helped raise Sweatman and her siblings. Sweatman, the youngest of four, may have also been reminded of the story of a younger Williams chasing after chickens for that night’s supper.
“Marlo and her grandmother were very close,” Sweatman’s mother Beverly Sweatman said. “Marlo was able to bond with her and talk about some good times.”
Williams passed away on Sept. 20, 2015. She was 89.
Williams’ final days were spent watching Sweatman play as freely and confidently as ever at Oregon. Sitting on the television that Williams used to follow Sweatman’s career was Sweatman’s 2008 Virginia State championship trophy, an item Williams was proud to display all the time.
“Coming here [to Oregon] and people really wanting the best for me, doing whatever they can to see me grow,” the junior midfielder said, “it feels amazing.”
But Sweatman only started playing that way since she transferred from Florida State.
“It wasn’t a fit for me,” Sweatman said. “It wasn’t a good feeling when you know you don’t have that much impact towards the team. The biggest thing is that you just know when you’re wanted and when you’re not really important.”
Although Sweatman was about two weeks into her freshman season when she began to second guess her ability, she stuck it out till the end. During that season, she played in six total games during the Seminoles’ run to the finals of the 2013 Women’s College Cup.
Sweatman’s transfer to Oregon felt like a decision a long time in the making.
If you ask Sweatman, she’d tell you that the Ducks entered her life many years ago, in the seventh grade, at a Washington D.C. airport.
“I saw the Oregon Ducks baseball team go by and for some reason I was like, ‘I want to go there,'” she explained. Then, she “never thought about Oregon again.”
The Ducks’ program “just kind of popped in my mind,” Sweatman said, when she planned to leave Florida State.
As Marlo did her research, so did the Oregon coaching staff.
“Right away, she exudes an awesome personality that’s warming, that’s welcoming,” Ducks’ assistant coach Christie Welsh said. Welsh referred to Clyde Watson – a former coach of both Sweatman (club) and Welsh (professional) to get the report on Sweatman.
Both passed the other’s test and Marlo landed in Eugene during June 2014.
Welsh, without asking, will tell you that Sweatman is “humble in many, many ways.” A trait unchanged since the dual citizen captained the U-20 Jamaica women’s national team.
In a third-world country financially focused on the men’s soccer program, Sweatman practiced on a field composed of dirt and dead grass that was dotted with holes, a place where she started every game in 2012 for a team that struggled to provide water and proper nutrition to its players.
“There is no excuse for [me],” Sweatman said. “Because I have resources other people don’t.”
Now, Sweatman is in a vastly different environment, continuing her new life with the Ducks in search of another trophy to fit on Williams’ TV.
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