9 stars from 1998 Steamboat girls’ state championship soccer team — where are they today?
1998 Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team roster
Coaches; Jm Dudley, Jon Hawes, Cathy Hillman and Rick Garth
Back in 1998 Steamboat Springs freshman, Liz Masterson thought winning a state title just happened.
“I was a freshman and I just kind of thought that was the norm. You just go in and win championships,” Masterson recalls. “But after that we had really talented teams. We expected to win, we expected to be really competitive, and to do really well. But it’s not easy to win championships. It proves that there are so many things that have to be in place and so many things that have to come.”
Masterson said that championship game, and the moments after changed her life.
“That experience shaped the direction of my soccer career,” Masterson said.
Today she is head coach of the women’s soccer program at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Last season she helped the Division II team go 12-4-3 overall, and 7-1-1 in the Liberty League. She lives in Rochester with husband, Evan Schutt, their daughter Harper, and son Kailan.
After high school Masterson played college at St. Lawrence University, where she started all four years, serving as captain in 2004 and earning first team All-American honors in 2003.
During her college career she scored 20 goals and added 15 assists. She also played professionally with the Massachusetts Stingers for one season and the Rochester Rhinos from 2006 to 2008.
She received a bachelor’s degree in government from St. Lawrence in 2005, a master’s degree in sport business management from Manhattanville College in 2008, where she served as the assistant coach for the women’s soccer team for two seasons.
The day the Sailors won a state soccer title, 20 years ago this May, was a defining moment.
“It was something that I desperately wanted to experience again,” Masterson said of winning that championships. “It’s one of those moments that stays with you for a long, long time.”
After stopping 18 shots, including two huge saves in the final shootout, the Denver Post named Clare Ellison the Most Valuable Player following the Steamboat Sailors’ win in the state championship game against Palisade in 1998.
“I don’t remember thinking that we were going to lose our momentum,” Ellison said. “It was a more of we can’t lose this game, we are not going to lose this game.”
Today, Ellison lives in Loveland with her husband, Scott Sinclair, and 6-year-old son, Daniel. The couple is in the process of adopting baby number two.
She is currently pursuing a doctorate through Creighton University’s long distance learning program in occupational therapy.
She also holds a bachelors degree in fine arts in photography and art history from Cornell College in Iowa, and in human development and family studies from Colorado State University.
But while family, and school are big parts of Ellison’s life these days, soccer is not.
“I actually quit playing soccer after that game, and I did not play again until I was 23 or 24,” Ellison said. “I needed to find someone to be other than Clare the soccer player.”
She said when she came back to the game at a recreational level, her love of soccer returned. She just stopped playing a few years ago.
“I took away a sense of belonging and that sense of family,” Ellison said. “I’m very proud of what we accomplished, and I’m in touch, mostly via Facebook, with a number of the girls that I played with. I don’t think that I necessarily would have remained in touch if we had not have that night.”
Nobody can blame Chantal Meek if she sheds a few tears while watching a sports movie. The one where the underdogs somehow beat all odds en route to winning the big game.
“I’ve watched those sports movies, and everything, where the underdogs come from behind,” Meek said. “I get it. I’m always the blubbering idiot because I know what that feels like — not that we were necessarily the underdogs, but we were not the first pick by any stretch of the imagination.”
The former Sailor soccer star, who netted the game-tying score late in the second half of the 1998 championship game now lives with her family in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She has four children, Ethan,15, Novienne,9, Talaiyana,7 and Audric, 2.
“I’m a bartender at a biker bar, and it’s pretty great because I work weekends, and I’m a stay-at-home mom with my kids during the week,” Meek said.
She looks back on her high school days fondly and recalls her senior year as hectic.
“I was actually fairly wrapped up in my own stuff,” Meek remembers. “I was negotiating with my college coach who was not a fan of me going back to play. He wanted me to sit out my senior season, and be ready for him.”
She was battling a condition called Chronic Exertional Compartmental Syndrome, an exercise-induced muscle and nerve condition that causes pain, swelling and sometimes disability. The College coach wanted her to undergo surgery to correct the problem as soon as possible.
“There was no way,” Meek said.“I had been playing with those girls since I was 6 or 7 years old.”
She didn’t want to, but Meek had the surgery. She said she was supposed to be out six weeks, but she ended up taking off 10 days. She missed a few games, but returned to the playoffs. He time in the semi-finals and finals was limited, but her impact was not. She scored the last-minute goal that forced overtime, and she also scored in the penalty shootout.
“It just really could not have ended any differently,” Meek said. “We were the first girls traveling team, and our group of athletes was the first time that the community took female athletes seriously. Outside of skiing we had never had a group of girls want to part in a team sport at that level. It had to end that way because it was what we started as little kids.”
Katie (Luce) Anderson
She was a defender, but Katie Anderson scored two goals in the championship game against Palisade, including the pivotal score that tied the game and another in the shootout.
“One thing I remember was that the state’s leading scorer from Palisade only got one goal in regulation,” Anderson said.”I scored a goal when Chantal Meek got taken down in the box, and I also scored a goal in the penalty kicks. We won it, which was pretty incredible, and I scored two goals as a defender which is pretty rare.”
Anderson, who was a junior when the Sailors won the state title, attended Bemidji State University in Minnesota after high school and earned a degree in 2002. She returned home after college and worked as a third-grade teacher at Christian Heritage School for several years and is now staying at home with her young children as well as working part time for a babysitting service.
She married her high school sweetheart, Nate Anderson in 2004.
Jessie (Turton) Pollard
Twenty years after helping the Steamboat Springs High School soccer team win a state title, Jessie Pollard is enjoying life with her, and her family in Montrose.
“We (she and her husband) are on staff with Young Life, and I also have a photography business doing family portraits, senior portraits and newborn stuff,” said Pollard, who recently gave birth to her fourth child. The busy mom has helped coach youth soccer, and was an assistant coach for the high school girls soccer team a couple of years ago. Coaching is something she is hoping to get back into in the future.
Pollard attended the Christian Heritage School when she was living in Steamboat.
“It was just cool that everybody came together,” Pollard said. “The different interests, the different groups. I think it was really impactful that we were all able to come together like that.”
Melissa (Johnson) Mickleson
Melissa Mickleson scored 12 goals and has six assists during her senior soccer season in Steamboat Springs, but the goal she will always remember, is the one she missed.
“Somebody else got to have all the glory, and that’s OK,” Mickleson said. “I just remember crying when we won because I was so excited and happy. It was pretty special to end our career together, and in that way.”
Mickleson, played club soccer at Arizona State University for a year, but gave it up because she said it was just too hot. Today, she runs a cool sculpting business in Phoenix called Bodify with her sister Jessica Johnson (who was a freshman on the state championship team) and is married to Josh Mickleson.
“I think that day stayed with me,” Mickleson said. “It was hard work and dedication, and I’ve been able to apply that to different parts of my life.”
Liz Porter-Merrill was one of the top scorers on the Sailors team as a senior, but these days she is a senior public defender in the Appellate Division of the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office.
“I’ve had a very rewarding career as a public defender, and I’ve appeared in front of the Colorado supreme court several times,” Porter-Merrill said. “I’m super passionate about the work that I do, and I still get very emotionally invested. I have had clients in solitary, and as soon as they get out its like a weight has been lifted. I’m super passionate about the work I do, so when I win a Supreme Court case or I win a client’s release it’s very exiting and very satisfying.”
She said those victories produce feelings that are very similar to how she felt after winning the state title.
Jennifer (Fritz) Patten
Jennifer Patten will never forget the battle between Steamboat Springs and Palisade, or the feelings that erupted after the Sailors came out on top of a 4-3 shootout to win the state title.
“It had been our dream since we were like 8,” Patten said. “The celebration that ensued was just ridicules it was like every emotion that I have ever felt. I maybe felt that way when I got married. It was one of those explosive moments of your life when everything comes together.”
When the time came to go to college, Patten chose acting and theatre over sports and headed to Emerson College in Boston.
“I started in theatre but realized that it was going to be a very expensive degree, and that I might not have the skills I needed on the other side,” Patten said. “So I changed to marketing and advertising in my second year.”
After graduation, she moved to San Francisco where she spent 13 years in the real estate business. Three years ago, she decided to follow her interest in fashion and put her efforts, full time, into her own clothing company.
“Now I am an entrepreneur. I own a fashion company called Warrior Within Design, which is in it’s ninth year of business,” Patten said. “We just got a licensing deal with the Grateful Dead, so we are doing a whole clothing line of Grateful Dead clothes starting now.”
The state championship game was exciting, but as Julie Jarvis remembers, it was the bus ride home that she’ll never forget.
“Everybody piled onto the bus to go back home,”Jarvis said. “Normally some of the girls would go home with their parents but not that night.”
Jarvis played center forward on the team, and while she may not have been as fast as Meek, Patten or Mickleson, her role on the team was just as important. She was a co-captain on the team that season and led the team in assists with seven.
“I wasn’t fast, but I could create space and find people ,” Jarvis said. “My coaches believed in me, and that was important.”
She attended the University of Colorado after high school, went to law school at Willamette College of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude in 2009. She practiced corporate law for several years, and recently switched to the real estate business near her home in Portland.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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