From the October edition of Commodore Nation
Christina De Zeeuw came to Vanderbilt with a specific objection in mind: To help the Commodore program become a relevant force in the SEC. Three years into her career, the junior defender from Overland Park, Kansas, has certainly achieved that goal. This season, De Zeeuw and the Commodores put together a four-game SEC winning streak, highlighted by a victory over No. 14 Texas A&M, and ultimately clinched a berth in the SEC Tournament for the second consecutive season. Commodore Nation recently sat down with DeZeeuw to discuss the Vanderbilt's upswing, along with a variety of other topics:
Commodore Nation: The Vanderbilt soccer program has been making a steady rise for the past two seasons. What have been the keys to that transformation?
DeZeeuw: When the new coaching staff came in (head coach Darren Ambrose arrived at Vanderbilt before the 2015 season), they set the bar really high for us and changed how the team functions and the leadership of the team. There's a mutual understanding; everyone's disciplined and we're all accountable. And it's changed our entire mindset. Making the SEC Tournament, for example, used to be a goal for this team. Now it's an expectation. It's just something that's going to become regular for this program.
Commodore Nation: How much satisfaction do you take in knowing that you are helping lay the foundation for future success for the teams at Vanderbilt?
DeZeeuw: It's the whole reason I came to be a part of this program. I wanted to be a person who made opportunities for the people who came after me. And we feel like we are definitely doing that. I'm so excited to see what happens when I'm gone.
Commodore Nation: It certainly appears that this team is a very close-knit group. How much has that carried over onto the field?
DeZeeuw: Everyone is on the same page and gets along really well. I've never been on a team with this good of chemistry. And I definitely think it's played a huge role in our success. Just the fact that we know what to expect from each other and to be honest with each other -- that's such a big key.
Commodore Nation: So, switching gears for a minute, we've heard you are now a dual citizen? Tell us a little bit about that.
DeZeeuw: My mom is from Columbia and she came (to the States) when she was about 21. But once you're a Columbian citizen, you're always a citizen -- and if one of your parents is a citizen there, you can become a citizen. This summer we went to Chicago and completed all the paperwork and the other requirements, and I became a dual citizen. I now have my Columbian certification card and my Columbian passport
Commodore Nation: So, in the future you could play for their Olympic team?
DeZeeuw: Yes. It's something that I had never really thought about it (until assistant coach Ken Masuhr mentioned it). But now, if I had the opportunity, I think it would be amazing.
Commodore Nation: Did you play any other sports in high school aside from soccer?
DeZeeuw: I played volleyball and I actually had to choose between (volleyball and soccer) for college. A lot of people don't know this about me: My club volleyball team won the national championship. But after my sophomore year, I decided I wanted to play soccer, so I pursued that.
Commodore Nation: How difficult of a decision was that?
DeZeeuw: Soccer was always my first love, and I haven't missed volleyball since I made that decision. I started playing soccer when I was 3. My older brother played, so as soon as I saw him playing, I said I want to play!