Steamboat high school soccer players look forward to college play |

Steamboat high school soccer players look forward to college play

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School 2010 graduates Mia Quick, from left, Courtney Garth, McKenzie Worden and Emi Birch are on the way to play college soccer at the Division III level. The four have played together for more than 10 years.

— Long ago, Mia Quick, Courtney Garth, Emi Birch and McKenzie Worden couldn't win a game.

The four departing Steamboat Springs High School soccer players spent multiple seasons of their youth going winless.

"We were horrible," Worden said. "It took a long time for us to get good. I'm pretty sure we lost every single game until we were 12 or 13."

But somewhere under the tears and winless summer evenings was the foundation of four pretty darn good players. They persevered, got better and became the core of a Steamboat team that remained a power in the Western Slope League the past four seasons.

Now — as part of a departing class — the four will play Division III soccer next year.

Quick will play at Ripon College in Wisconsin, Garth is headed to Lake Forest College in Chicago, Worden will play at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and Birch will play at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.

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"These are my best friends," Birch said. "It's not something I'll ever forget. It will be something I'll try and get back at college."

4 of a kind

Their stories are plentiful, and memories of playing soccer are even better. But as each of the four progressed in soccer and school, it became apparent that all four wanted the opportunity to play a sport in college.

Quick wanted a place with outstanding academic and soccer programs. Garth wanted a place where she could play soccer and hockey, and Worden and Birch just couldn't imagine not playing at the next level.

"I think it means a lot to be going off to college with these girls," Garth said. "It shows how hard we all worked to reach our goals, and our goal was for everybody to play soccer in college."

Despite the mounting losses early in their career, it was evident early on that the four would be centerpieces in the Steamboat soccer stable.

Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said the beauty of playing in town like Steamboat is that girls get to play together from a very young age. And despite those losses, Bohlmann said he saw something from this group years ago.

"Being in a small town and being involved with our club, you see these kids involved at an early age," Bohlmann said. "You don't know how things will script out, but you see kids who have a passion for the game. You see a trend. They worked hard, and they are committed and love playing the game. It was pretty easy to see early on."

A new rivalry

Playing alongside one another has become second nature.

"We're so close it's hard to leave," Quick said. "We all know we helped each other grow over the years."

Aside from holiday breaks and summer, this season might have been one of the last times they would be on the field together.

But it's funny how things work out. Garth's and Quick's teams most likely will play against each other. Birch's and Worden's teams have a chance of playing against each other.

All four admit it will be different going from teammates to foes. But it's all something they will embrace.

"That will be interesting," Garth said about playing against Quick. "I think it will be a little difficult. Don't want to go against her, especially since I've known her so long. But no way I'll go easy. We're both pretty competitive and want to show each other what we've got."

Although all four now are on different paths, the bond they've had the past dozen years won't be lost — even if all are in four different places.

"Over the years, we have grown to be an incredibly tight-knit group," Quick said. "I know I wouldn't be the same person without the influence of these girls."