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Among the immortals at ENMU-Portales; Roswell girls’ soccer coach inducted into Athletics Hall of Honors

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Roswell’s coach Samantha Lawrence-Ward and family at ENMU’s Hall of Honors Saturday. (Submitted Photo)

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As Roswell’s girls’ soccer coach Samantha Lawrence-Ward sat upon the dais in the ballroom at Campus Union Building at Eastern New Mexico University-Portales Saturday morning, Lawrence-Ward and her family had to be overwhelmed by the experience.

Lawrence-Ward was inducted into ENMU-Portales athletic immortality along with the 2017 class that consisted of Larry Riley (men’s basketball), Gary Good (rodeo), Alex Mayo-Otis (softball), and Anna Bellum (volleyball).

Lawrence-Ward was only moments from being enshrined as the university’s greatest women’s soccer player. In a moment, she would reveal the compelling drive in herself and how it all started.

From the time her father, David, began coaching the Goddard High School boys soccer team, an 8-year-old Lawrence-Ward began to play and never relented. She credits her dad for pushing her more than anyone ever has. Her father saw things in her that she didn’t see in herself, though he couldn’t make every game, he did give her an inspirational pep talk before every game.

“Stay hungry, but stay humble,” David Lawrence would tell his daughter over the phone or in person before every game.

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Lawrence-Ward thought about another of her biggest fans, her mother, Marybeth, who had never missed a game in her high school or college career. In her speech, Lawrence-Ward would go on to tell her mother how much that meant to her.

During the introduction, Lawrence-Ward could not help but to think of her sister Chelsea, another big supporter that couldn’t make it to the event. Chelsea Lawrence could see her play in every game as a freshman.

While Dr. Elder was telling those in attendance of her numerous accomplishments on the pitch, in that moment, she had to think of her first coach at ENMU-Portales, Travis McCorkle, who would instill in her that with hard work and fighting through adversity with a composed effort, anything is possible.

Maybe it is the time Lawrence-Ward would remember since McCorkle taught her there was more to the game of soccer than scoring goals. In a game against College of the Southwest, she did, in fact, go scoreless. But those few kind words meant Lawrence-Ward could compete at the Division II level and be great.

“I will remember that day,” Lawrence-Ward said, “and the impact it had, not only on my soccer career, but my life.”

No worries, Lawrence-Ward would go on and tie ENMU-Portales’ single-season goal record with 11 in her sophomore year.

Lawrence-Ward endured her share of adversity when she lost her coach. McCorkle left ENMU-Portales and moved to San Angelo two weeks before the start of her junior campaign. All she did was dedicate herself to the principles McCorkle taught her.

In a game against Texas-Permian Basin at home, Lawrence-Ward entered the game with 10 goals on the season. With her family there and relatives in from Missouri, nine minutes into the game, Lawrence-Ward hit the back of the net to have back-to-back 11-goal seasons. With the game tied 2-2 in overtime, at the 97th minute, Lawrence-Ward made history at ENMU-Portales and set the record with her 12 goals during the season as the Lady ‘Hounds won 3-2.

“My goal was never to be the leading scorer in Eastern New Mexico’s history,” Lawrence-Ward said. “But to leave my mark on the program and work the hardest I could, for not only myself and my family, but for my teammates and coaches.”

Growing up in Roswell as a Rocket, then coming back to become the girls’ soccer coach at Roswell High, Lawrence-Ward understands firsthand the rivals her school faces. The pride and passion she played with carried over into her coaching.

“I probably push harder than a lot of coaches,” Lawrence-Ward said, “because I know what it takes and what to expect.”

As a coach, Lawrence-Ward tries to instill adaptability in her players. Even so, in soccer, as in life, she teaches her players to make the best out of every situation that comes their way.

“My advice to young ladies who may want to play college soccer would be to give it a try,” she said. “You never know if you belong until you try. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s worth it. You will always have those moments where you will lack confidence, but it’s how you pick yourself back up and how you push forward.”

While ENMU-Portales is family to Lawrence-Ward, Ward thanks Eastern as well. It is there she met the most important friend she would ever know, the love of her life, her husband Kris. With Kris, she has built a life as a role model, wife, teacher and mother to her two boys, 4-year-old Kase and 8-month-old Kooper.

As she was being introduced by “Doc” Elder to speak, I’m sure those thoughts and memories of the journey she’s been on came to her.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Elder said, “I introduce to you Eastern’s greatest women’s soccer player ever, Samantha Lawrence-Ward.”

Career highlights

Lawrence-Ward played for the ENMU-Portales women’s soccer team from 2006-09 and was one of the most highly decorated players in the program’s history. She is Eastern’s all-time leader in goals, was a two-time Greatest Zia (former title of Greatest Greyhound) and a three-time All-Lone Star Conference selection.

She earned numerous academic honors, which included Honorable Mention NSCAA Scholar All-West Region (twice), Second-Team Academic All-District, National Consortium for Academics and Sports 2008 Academic Momentum Award, and Academic All-LSC (twice).

Three times she earned the team’s Most Valuable Offensive Player award and was named Player of the Year in 2008. Lawrence holds ENMU-Portales career records with 37 goals and 13 game-winning goals. She tied a team record with 11 goals in the 2007 season and eclipsed that mark with a 15-goal campaign the following year.