Rebel Athlete Of The Week Feature
Sophomore Courtney Botelho's Attitude is Infections to Teammates
Sage Sammons, UNLV Media Relations
Sept. 14, 2011
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - When the UNLV women's soccer team needs aggressive enthusiasm, 5-1 sophomore Courtney Botellho is eager to step up.
"Courtney is a great player, she was as a freshman, and now she is stepping up this year," said head coach Jen Klein. "I think a lot of people look at her size and think `what is a little one like that going to be able to do?' She can do a lot for us like set up the goal or finish it herself."
Since Botelho is just over five feet, she had to work that much harder to get on the field last season.
"I think for Courtney, just because of her size, she had to get used to the physical nature of the game at this level," said Klein.
Botelho embraced her role as a bench player last season and just wanted to help her team in any form.
"We had a really good team in 2010, so my role was to just come of the bench," said Botelho. "I needed to make sure that the level of play didn't go down. I played about half of the game and just tried to work hard."
During her freshman year last season, Botelho was able to get the vital experience she needed. Now, in her sophomore year she is a starter for the Rebels, and her coach credits her success because of her constant aggressiveness.
"She is one of our most aggressive kids on the field. She is not scared to get into a tackle or go up against the biggest kid on the other team. Her ability to adjust to that has helped her tremendously. We really want to put her on the field because she has the ability to be a scoring threat."
Teams have already felt how dangerous she can be early this season, as she has one goal and two assists on the year. But Botelho is a team first player, and her personal goals reflect her team's success.
"We basically didn't start off on the best note, but our goals right now are to win the rest of our games at home and finish our non-conference games with wins," said Botelho. "We haven't been playing bad, but our outcomes haven't been what we have wanted. We just met as a team and set our new goals for non-conference and conference games. We just want to come into conference play with a few wins."
One of those non-conference matches will be against a team very close to Botelho heart, Hawaii. Botelho was born and raised in Hawaii before coming to UNLV and Sunday's showdown has very personal implications to Botelho.
"I really want to beat Hawaii," said Botelho. "I know just about everyone on that team and that coach was my high school coach. So it's really important for me that we get the win."
Coach Klein hopes that Botelho's enthusiasm will spill over to the rest of the players.
"Anytime a kid is playing against a team from home, and Hawaii is a little different because it's an island and everyone knows who you are and she is playing against a bunch of friends, I think that kind of adds a little excitement to the game," said Klein. "I think her energy will carry over to everyone else and add a little bit more to the game."
Away from the pitch, Botelho is a typical girl who enjoys the mall and friends, but she also understands the importance of an education.
"I like to go shopping and since I'm from Hawaii, I like going to the beach," Botelho said. "Basically I just like hanging out with friends. But I'm also kind of a nerd because I study a lot."
Botelho and the Rebels will host the UNLV Nike Invitational this weekend. They open on Friday against Seattle at 7 pm. and will close the weekend against Hawaii on Sunday at 1 pm.