Catching up with Joshua's Graycen Rasmussen
Graycen Rasmussen has been a force on the pitch for the Joshua Lady Owls throughout her entire high school career including setting two school records. During her senior season, she helped to lead Joshua to the Regional Quarterfinals. Following the final game of her high school career, VYPE DFW was given the opportunity to talk to Rasmussen a little bit about her time playing with the Lady Owls.
Focusing on Success
Offseason can be a time for major growth for a lot of athletes. Staying focused is necessary if you are going to sharpen your skills and prepare for the upcoming season. For Rasmussen, it all comes down to being driven to be great. "The drive to be the absolute best [keeps me focused in the offseason]," Rasmussen told VYPE. "Knowing that while we're working hard there are just as many other schools doing the same. Every team works toward the same goal- the state championship. So if we slack off or don't put in the effort, it's eventually going to reflect back on that."
With her drive to stay focused on being the best, Rasmussen has been pretty successful for Joshua. "Last season, as a junior, I set two school records- most goals in a single game (5) and most goals in a season (33). This year as a senior, I rebroke both of those with six goals in a game and an overall 47 in the season," Rasmussen said while she described what she believes has been her greatest accomplishment this season. "I only got to play two full seasons- one as a junior, one as a senior- since two ACL injuries (freshman and sophomore year) limited me, so I really wanted to get after it these last two years and really make my mark as an owl."
Rasmussen's record-setting goal was caught on film and shared by the Lady Owls on twitter:
Here is a video of Rasmussen’s record setting 47th goal of the season against Highland Park #rowthatboat @Gosset41 @tascosoccer @CTRsports @dfwvarsity @joshuaathletics @JoshuaISD @MaxPreps @LethalSoccer pic.twitter.com/PZ9DvSbd3u
— Joshua Lady Owl Soccer (@SoccerLadyOwls) April 2, 2022
"Before that goal, I had scored a header to tie the game up, so it was obviously very intense already," Rasmussen said in regards to that 47th goal. "Both teams knew that this was going to be a mental battle- who can make the least mistakes? When I saw my teammate, Trinity Brown, had the ball, I just sat back and waited for the right moment to strike. Once that shot came off my foot, I knew it was the perfect strike- perfect spin, weight and power to it. I saw the net move, indicating the goal, and just felt like I was on top of the world. I dropped to a knee, pumped my fist, finished celebrating with my teammates and then knew we had to move on. We had taken control of the game for now and you could see that in the rest of the half."
Secrets to Success
With so much success surrounding Rasmussen and the Lady Owls this season, fans must wonder what the secret is. Overcoming challenges placed before them seems to be something that Joshua is good at doing- being resilient and focused has helped them achieve plenty of success according to Rasmussen. "We lost a good chunk of our seniors in the previous year that we had a lot of chemistry with," Rasmussen started. "So, we immediately knew that bringing in the freshmen and getting them comfortable was going to be a challenge. We did just that and the girls' willingness to work and fight for each other was a large factor [to success]. No matter what is going on, we fight until the final whistle. Many of those moments were evident in our games versus Midlothian, Cleburne, and the playoff teams. It kept us going as one unit working toward the same goal and had an impact on our success."
Aside from success as a team, Rasmussen has had a lot of personal success. So, how has she remained successful while battling major injuries? It all comes down to focus and staying in the present. "Forget about the game you just played and start focusing on the next. There are so many skilled teams in our district and in our playoff run that I couldn't afford to stay bak and relish in the past. It's all about having the right mindset- knowing that your next opponent will be just as difficult as the last."
With a proper mindset, it's not too difficult to keep your head in the game and your eyes on the prize. For Rasmussen, her mindset going into each season is simple: Never quit. "My teammates and I have been through so much together; I would be letting them down if I didn't give my full effort every game no matter what. Even if I was injured, like my first two seasons, I would do my absolute best to cheer and give advice from the bench. Even if we lost in the end, as long as we did't quit, it was all worth it."
This season, Rasmussen and the Lady Owls have had plenty of goals. As a team, coming into a new season the original goal was finishing strong in district play. "Our first goal of the season was to bring back the district title to Joshua," said Rasmussen. "We dropped one game to a very talented Red Oak team at the beginning of the season due to a miscommunication. After fixing that, we fought relentlessly against some of the top Region 2- 5A schools around to bring back that title. The last district game of the season versus Midlothian was probably our most intense game. Both sides wanted it so badly, but our defense did an incredible job at locking down the backline and securing our 1-0 lead. It was a great feeling to bring the title back to Joshua and for us seniors to have our first district title as well."
Once regular season was over, the team made week-to-week goals in order to stay on track. "After district, we just kept the next game in mind. No looking ahead of the game in front of us- face your current opponent and win first, then move on. Little goals like that are what led us to round 3 again for the second year in a row."
As far as individual goals go, Rasmussen broke down the two goals that she had for herself going into her senior season: breaking her records and making it beyond the third round of playoffs. Rasmussen acknowledged that although she completed the first goal, her second goal wasn't quite completed. "When we found out they were our match-up team [for regional quarterfinals], we all heard from those around us: well, you had a good run and Highland Park? That's unfortunate, you had a good season, though. While, yes, they are absolutely one of the best teams we played this season, we were not going to back down because of the reputation that name held to everyone. We were going to go in, fight tooth and nail to win that game, and if we didn't we knew we were going to make them work for it. And they did," Rasmussen told VYPE.
"Soccer can be a very unpredictable game and sometimes the ball just doesn't go in the back of the net. I am very proud of what my team did."
It's easy to make incredible memories when you build bonds with teammates and perform well on the field. "There's obviously so many [memories] to choose from, but I'd have to say breaking two school records and how much support I got from my teammates during that time [has been my favorite]. They supported and drove me to be the best after a rough first two years of high school."
With such great memories, playing for a team like Joshua can mean so much to an athlete. "It brought me some of my closest friends I'll ever make and I'm forever grateful for that," Rasmussen said. "It taught me that there's more things to appreciate than soccer itself- appreciate the time spent with everyone, the hard work that is so worth it to put in, etc. Coach Brooks taught us that there's more to life than soccer and that everything we do out on the pitch and in life shapes who we are. It was great to play for a school that had student supporters at more games- in club soccer it's mainly just parents."
With so much respect for her coaches, teammates, the game, and what she has learned, there is no doubt that Rasmussen has learned plenty of things that will stick with her for many years to come. "I think before my two ACL injuries, I took playing for granted too much. After those rehabs and time spent off the field, I saw in high school how much quality relationships with your teammates can affect your game. Being a close-knit group that works well together pays off," the senior said. "I'll also take the knowledge that just because I'm starting out as a bottom tier freshman again, the drive to win and score should still be the same, regardless of whether I'm on the field or the sideline."
A Bright Future
Rasmussen is headed off to Lubbock Christian in the fall where she will play for the soccer team while studying biology. He goal is to major in biology with the hopes of attending physical therapy school later. So, what stood out about Lubbock Christian to this talented athlete? "The minute I stepped on Lubbock Christian's campus, I just felt like I belonged there. Coach Denning and Coach Brooke brought me in and introduced the team's morals and standards- it just all felt like something I wanted in a program. The girls were very inclusive and I could just tell they were all hard workers who wanted to win. The school is very focused on growing their students closer to God and really teaching what it means to be a christian leader. I immediately knew that was where I wanted to be."
What is your favorite professional sports team?
"Do the Cowboys count? If I'm being completely honest, I don't watch tv that often actually!"
Who do you look up to as an athlete?
"Growing up, I never really idolized a specific athlete, mainly just the sports themselves and how playing it made me feel."
If you could go to dinner with one person (dead or alive) who would it be? What would you hope to talk about?
"100% Betty White. My mom and I loved watching her movies and sows. She was so funny and quick witted. I would love to just talk to her about her life and what she did as she grew up."