Junior soccer player Coley Lyubenko on the importance of her sport, future plans, and her favorite spots on campus

By Miles Montgomery | Photo Courtesy of Coley Lyubenko

“Soccer means a lot to me,” Colorado College women’s soccer player and jack-of-all-trades Coley Lyubenko ’21 said as we conducted a socially distanced interview from her living room in the Denver suburb of Aurora. “I owe a great deal of my success to soccer, and I appreciate all the achievements it has helped me to reach.”

“All of the achievements” have been nicely organized on a shelf in Coley’s room. Everything from tournament trophies, medals and state championships, to individual awards, including the 2016 Colorado 5A player of the year and a subsequent high school All-American award, can be found lining the shelf, a nod to Coley’s ambition and work ethic. That same ambition led her to commit to the University of Alabama, where she played two years in the famed Southeastern Conference, before a desire to return to her native Colorado drew her to Colorado College, and the unique educational and athletic opportunities that CC offers.

“I was drawn to the block plan, and the doors that it could open in the future,” said Coley. A math major and education minor, Coley plans to combine the two disciplines in her chosen career path, one she has aspired to since her childhood: being a high school math teacher, where she can focus on both explaining the intricacies of calculus and cultivating meaningful, lasting relationships with her students.

“More than anything, soccer has been a gateway, allowing me to prosper in the aspects of life I love most; most importantly, building and maintaining connections and life-long friendships,” Coley said with a thousand-watt smile.

Colorado’s outdoor activities are a staple for Coley, and she enjoys snowboarding, camping and fishing, especially when she is with people she truly enjoys. Being back home in Colorado also allows Coley to see her family much more often than she could when she was in Tuscaloosa, as home became a mere hour’s drive away.

“Being close to my family again was a big part in making my decision to come back to Colorado,” Coley said. “My family means so much to me, and it makes me very happy that they can come watch me play on Stewart every home game.”

Stewart Field holds a special place in Coley’s heart, and the picturesque view of Pikes Peak drew her in as soon as she set foot on campus for her official visit. “Stewart always provides me with an escape for any distractions and pressures I am feeling academically,” said Coley. “There is an incredible view of Pikes and the foothills that never ceases to blow my mind, especially around sunrise or sunset.”

Coley has also developed a special relationship with Tutt Science, forged through countless lab hours and calculations. “Although it may seem weird, the sheer amount of time I have spent in Tutt has allowed me to be able to focus in that building more than anywhere else on campus. Don’t ask me why, it’s weird,” she said with a laugh.

Coley has not escaped the immeasurable stress that many college students and world citizens are experiencing in these uncertain times, and she finds herself missing the reliable routine that structured her days, and the company that it brought. “During this epidemic and quarantine, I have realized how badly I miss going to practice and seeing my teammates,” said Coley, before reflecting on the lessons soccer has imparted to her throughout her lifetime.

“In all honesty, soccer played a huge role in my development as a person. I became a better friend, a role model, a competitor and a team player, and ultimately a better human being,” Coley said, choosing each word carefully. “Soccer is a sport I am forever in debt to, and it has helped me discover myself outside of the white lines as well.”

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