Mann runs around the competition in two sports at W&L

Molly Mann, ‘20, began her W&L sporting career with basketball, and now she’s added another sport to her list: soccer

Bryn McCarthy

Washington and Lee’s women’s soccer team has a new goalie this year, but for over a decade, her specialty wasn’t soccer. It was basketball.

Molly Mann, ’20, has been playing basketball for 11 years.

Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

“I’ve been playing since the fourth grade because they told me I was too tall to do gymnastics,” Mann said. “My dad wanted one of his kids to play basketball and he picked me because I was the most aggressive and that’s just how it started.”

A shooter for the W&L women’s basketball team, Mann said she loves scoring “3’s” and outside long shots.

But she now has a new position as the women’s soccer goalie.

“It’s my first year ever playing soccer,” Mann said.

In fact, she had never watched a soccer game in its entirety or even played on a soccer team until she arrived at W&L. But she said she couldn’t be happier with her decision.

“I’m having so much fun with it,” Mann said. “It was definitely a quick learning process trying to get into it. On the first day I didn’t even know how to kick a ball or anything. So coming in and getting thrown into not only a collegiate program, but also a really good collegiate program, was really difficult.”

Mann said the most noticeable difference between basketball and soccer is the footwork, and that’s been one of the skills she’s had to work on most throughout the season.

According to Mann, head soccer coach Neil Cunningham has been especially helpful during her transition.

“I love, love, love both coaches, and they’ve been so accommodating with this whole process,” she said. “[Cunningham] has been very helpful and will stay after practice or do anything that I need for help. He’s been so supportive.”

Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

While basketball and soccer involve different sets of skills, Mann said similarities abound between the two teams, especially regarding their players’ attitudes and dedication.

“The basketball team is really, really unique. They’re a very close group of girls,” Mann said. “The soccer team is…very supportive, nice and friendly. Overall, both teams are so sweet and supportive, and they have really strong leaders which is really great in both senses.”

Mann said she has enjoyed the opportunity to learn and grow with her new teammates and sometimes forgets she hasn’t been playing soccer as long as she’s been playing basketball.

“Both sports have really honed in on my competitive type of skills,” Mann said. “I absolutely hate losing in every aspect of life, but playing these sports has also really helped with communicating with people and getting along with all types of people.”

Mann said the hardest, yet most rewarding moment of her soccer season came during the Roanoke College match on Oct. 10. The game went into double overtime, and W&L women’s soccer won, making it Cunningham’s 300th win.

“Lee Ann, our starting goalie, went out with a concussion, and they told me that I was playing in the game against the top team in the conference,” Mann said. “It went into double overtime and we won with 15 seconds left in the game.”

Mann called it “one of the most challenging and mentally taxing experiences of the whole season,” though she managed a save in the first overtime of the game.

As busy as she is now, however, Mann said athletics will continue to play a major role in her life and that she welcomes the opportunity to continue playing both sports.

“I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with…soccer, I know they recruited one other goalie to come,” Mann said. “But if the opportunity presents itself I would absolutely love to keep playing.”