Soccer player Neuner has scores no one can touch and a scholarshipBy Julia Morse
Chicago’s all-time leading scorer in women’s soccer finished her career with a NCAA post-graduate scholarship.
Renee Neuner, a fourth-year concentrating in Gender Studies, was one of 29 female student-athletes from across the country and all three NCAA divisions to be awarded $7,500 for postgraduate scholarship.
“To have an athlete like Renee come through your program is very rare,” said Amy Reifert, Associate Professor in Physical Education & Athletics, who has been Neuner’s soccer coach for the last four years. “She has a tremendous talent.”
Neuner, who was the 2003 NCAA Division III Player of the year in women’s soccer, ended her career at the University with a four-year total of 78 goals in 82 games.
“It is completely unlikely that another player will touch Renee’s numbers—ever,” Reifert said, adding that the second highest career goal total in College history is 40.
Her career point total is 171, with two points per goal and one point per goal assist. Behind her, the second-highest career point total is 90.
“She is the real deal,” Reifert said.
Neuner also is a four-time All-Central Region and All-University Athletic Association first-team selection and has assisted in leading her team to the NCAA Division III tournament for the last four years. In 2003, the Maroons finished as national runners-up and in 2005, they finished in third place.
“What makes her talent so incredibly impressive is that she scored against the very best competition,” she added.
In the last three years, with help from Neuner, the Maroons shot up to the top of the schedule index while playing against the best teams in Division III.
“It was every team’s goal for every game against the University not to allow Renee to score,” Reifert said. “Great players exist on all teams, but there is something special about a kid who can put the ball in the back of the net. That was Renee.”
But for Neuner, she saw herself as just one great player on a really great team.
“It’s nice to be recognized by the NCAA for all that I did and I’m really excited about the graduate school opportunity, but my team was amazing, too,” she said.
A soccer player since she was 5 years old, Neuner said she is sad to be finished with her college career, but is excited about the possibilities in her future.
“I will always, always look back on this and remember all the wonderful experiences,” she said. “But I realize that there’s a lot to look forward to.”
The NCAA postgraduate awards are not solely based on athletics, also recognizing a student-athlete’s talents off the field, in the classroom and around the community.
Neuner, who said she takes her academics very seriously, has participated in internships for the previous two summers. The first with the Global Fund for Women in San Francisco and the last in Peru with an organization that fights for domestic workers’ rights.
“Soccer was not her world, rather, it was part of her world,” Reifert said. “To her, we were a piece of the pie, and that’s what makes her such a wonderful young woman.”
Reifert added that she is looking forward to seeing what Neuner does in the future, “She is going to have a wonderful impact on the world. She has an incredible vision of life.”
For the time being, Neuner is going to focus on her other love: music.
“I’m in a rock-n-roll band, and I am extremely excited to take some time off and enjoy that—playing the guitar and singing,” she said.
After a year off or so, Neuner said she plans to attend graduate school, possibly for international studies or women’s studies.
“I’m not sure quite yet,” she said. “I’m just taking it as it comes.”