Soccer Star Michelle Wenino: Red Star Lone Ranger

John HowellAnalyst IJune 11, 2009

She wasn't expected to play. But then Heather Garriock aggravated a recent injury and Michelle Wenino of Aurora, Colorado got the call. For the former University of Colorado stand-out, it was her first official playing time in the WPS. 

It was May 30 at Toyota Park. The opponent was St. Louis Athletica. The Red Stars were playing without four starters (Rapinoe, Tarpley, Lloyd and Dalmy). Chicago was trailing.

Wenino took the field, an apparent afterthought in Coach Hayes' substitution plans, and played as if it were the game of her life. From the first moment to the final whistle, Wenino was playing like a madwoman, sprinting to win every ball, intercept every pass within ten yards of her, dribbling through green jerseys as if they were orange cones, to start a counter attack. 

The fans who noticed were asking, "Who was that masked woman?" 

That woman was already at the pinnacle of her career, having an opportunity to take the field and do what she says was the greatest soccer moment in her life (just being a member of the Red Stars).

With the team back intact, Wenino hasn't had another opportunity, but Michelle made a statement on May 30. When given the opportunity, she will capitalize on it.

Perhaps the influence of Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm had something to do with it. Wenino says her attendance at a soccer camp run by the two former Women's National Team legends, at a very early age, convinced her she "wanted to have that life." Ever since, she says, "Soccer has been the number one passion in my life."

Or maybe her formative coach, Rafael Amaya had something to do with it as well. "He always made me believe that I was good enough and that I would always get better. He was an incredible coach and my number one mentor in soccer."

And she would also give her parents some of the credit. "My mom is someone that always pushes me to my fullest and loves me no matter what. I hope I can be half the women she is one day. My Dad is strong willed and is always trying to make me better, both as a person and in my career."

After her playing career is over, Wenino says, "I want to make a difference in the world in some way (haven't quite figured out what that is yet). I always want to do what I am passionate about and never settle for anything just for convenience or for money."

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