In less than two seasons of playing the position, Waupaca High School senior Josee Waitrovich has made a name for herself as one of the state’s best soccer goalkeepers.
She now has an opportunity to play at the college level, as she will head to Middle Tennessee State, a Division 1 school in Murfeesboro, Tenn.
“I’ve been talking to a bunch of different college coaches over the past couple of months,” said Waitrovich, who also competed in volleyball and basketball at WHS. “I decided to head to Middle Tennessee State next year. They recruited me and offered me a good scholarship to come play for them in the goal.”
Her high school coach, Mark Polebitski, gave the goalkeeping job to Waitrovich in the middle of her sophomore season, a move that has paid dividends.
“Early on, I recognized Josee had the athletic ability and the drive to become a special soccer player,” he said. “The only missing piece was the technical training required for the position of goalkeeper. Our coaching situation at WHS is very limited, as we have a single coach for an entire soccer team. That coach must work with the strikers, midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers. Since we don’t specifically have a goalkeeper coach, the keepers are many times left to go it alone.”
“I just started playing in goal in the middle of my sophomore year, not that long ago,” Waitrovich said. “I started making all those saves that I should be making and that other kids weren’t making. It just kind of struck me that I could play at the next level.”
Several college programs eventually began showing interest in Waitrovich, including the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill.; Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill.; and Portland University in Portland, Ore.
Murfeesboro, a city of about 115,000, is located 30 miles southeast of Nashville.
“I’ve been talking to a bunch of different college coaches over the past couple of months,” Waitrovich said. “I visited Green Bay and I really liked their campus. It was nice and close to home so Mom and Dad and my family and Polo could come, but Tennessee was really nice and I loved it there. I decided to head to Middle Tennessee State next year. They recruited me and offered me a good scholarship to come play for them in the goal.
“I went down there a couple of weekends ago and left with my offer,” she added. “I stayed overnight with the girls. I just really liked the campus. They just built a new biology building and I’ll be studying medicine. There’s no snow, so that’s really nice. The Portland coach came here to watch me and we were trying to get a time where I could go out there, but that just ended up not working. After I visited Tennessee, I knew that was the school for me. I wanted to get it done a long time ago. It’s a lot of stress off of my shoulders now that I know.”
Middle Tennessee’s offer is a partial scholarship, but Portland offered a full-ride scholarship.
“Tennessee is just a partial, but I have a chance over the next couple of years to work my way up,” Waitrovich said. “Part of the reason I decided not to head to Portland was it was just way too far away for me.”
Waitrovich was a big reason why the Comets had a successful season in 2013. Waupaca advanced to a Division 2 sectional final game against Appleton Xavier, but fell 3-0. Waitrovich had stopped all nine of Winneconne’s shots in a 1-0 sectional semifinal win over the Wolves.
“I will never forget her sophomore year,” Polebitski said. “We were playing at SPASH and after the game, I introduced Josee to Eric Wiberg, a goalkeeper training coach from Stevens Point. Since that day, Josee trained with Eric on a weekly basis. With a personal goalkeeper coach, she had the opportunity to develop the technical skills that were lacking. She trained on a weekly basis and developed into one of the top goalkeepers in the state.”
Wiberg also worked with former Waupaca goalie Cassie Glodowski, who went on to play soccer at UW-Parkside in Kenosha.
“Eric and Stan (Anderson) and their other staff members have done a great job in helping me get my footwork and my hands better,” Waitrovich said. “In basketball, I can catch the ball a little better.”
Polebitski began working with Waitrovich when she was in the seventh grade and believes she can be a successful college player.
“On the field, Josee is very vocal,” he said. “The goalkeeper’s responsibility is to direct the defenders so as to keep them in position. It takes field presence and a deep understanding to organize a soccer team defense. Josee developed that talent. She helped manage the defense on the field during game time, which is infinitely more effective than the coaches doing it from the sidelines.”
“I’ve always been a vocal leader,” Waitrovich said. “Once I got used to helping the girls know where to go, it was a good fit. I’m pretty athletic, so it was pretty easy for me to transition from the field.”
Now that her college decision is out of the way, Waitrovich can now concentrate on the upcoming season.
“We just want to make the most of our senior season,” she said. “State, that’d be really great. This year is the year we’re going down.”
“Josee is a three-sport athlete,” Polebitski said. “She played volleyball in the fall along with club soccer, basketball during the winter and soccer in the spring. Once she moves on to college, Josee will be concentrating on just one sport. Once that happens, she will take her game to the next level. I am excited to see what the soccer future has in store for her.”