All-decade honoree: Megan Bushue

All-decade honoree: Megan Bushue

CHAMPAIGN – The Golden Era for area girls' soccer took place from 2000 to '03 at Centennial High School. The Chargers advanced to the state tournament three of the four years and compiled a cumulative record of 87-7-5.

For three consecutive seasons, a Centennial forward was the Area Player of the Year. The all-star trio of Megan Bushue, Tricia Johnson and Brittany Ward combined to score 311 goals in their varsity careers.

Bushue and Ward were each four-time All-Area first-team picks and were the finalists for Area Player of the Decade, a designation that went to Bushue by a foot. She totaled 106 goals and 84 assists, just inching past Ward's totals of 102 goals and 86 assists.

Athletic competition was an integral part of Bushue's life from a young age.

"I have been known to say that if it weren't for my parents, I wouldn't have sports, and without sports, I wouldn't be me," Bushue said. "When you're on a team, you learn tons of lessons on how to succeed, but most importantly, whether I knew it or not, I learned how to be a good friend.

"My friends and I joke all the time about how we wouldn't have any friends if it weren't for sports, but it's the truth."

Bushue followed in the footsteps of her brother Cole into soccer. Her entrance into the endeavor as a member of the first girls' Little Illini Soccer Club 12-and-under team didn't provide an indication of what the future would hold.

Bushue was on the team as an 8-year-old.

"It took a long time to celebrate a win, rather than simply scoring a goal or finishing an entire game without having to be carried off," she said, "but without my Mom and Dad's perseverance and constant encouragement, I would never have become the soccer player that I evolved into.

"My brothers and I are extremely lucky that we had two parents that would do anything to foster our athletic careers."

What she learned in the more than a decade she played the game at a high level were lessons that have stayed after her competitive career ended.

"In my opinion, when you are raised in the sports world, you learn how to be a person in a different way than others do," Bushue said. "In order to succeed, you must learn how to be there for your teammates when they need you, you learn that it's OK to ask for help, that it is never OK to quit and that sometimes you have to do things you don't want for the benefit of the team. I'm not sure I would have fully learned these lessons without my experiences with athletics."

Bushue is now the club administrator for the Chicago Fire Juniors and coaches 10-and-under and 11-and-under girls teams. She is also a graduate student at Aurora University, working on her second master's degree. In another year, she hopes to have a master's of art, with a teacher certification.

"In everyday life, I have really been reaping the benefits of the lessons learned through my sports participation," Bushue said. "When others seems to have a difficult time taking directions from a superior, and working together to effectively communicate and do whatever it takes to get a task completed, this seems very easy to me and that is because I have done it all of my life, just on a soccer field instead."

While at Centennial, Bushue had three 30-goal seasons, two of which were years she also had 30 assists.

Her 37-goal season from 2001 remains the school standard.

As for her Athlete of the Decade recognition, Bushue said, "the only thing that could be any cooler would be if the athlete of the next decade is one of my former players."

It's not a far-fetched concept. In July 2009, a Little Illini Soccer Club team she first started coaching as 9-10-year-olds in 2005 won a national championship.

Area girls' soccer All-Decade team

NAME SCHOOL YR. GRAD

Ashley Bolen Urbana 2005 Midfielder was three-time All-Area first-teamer who had 56 career goals and 29 career assists

Megan Bushue Centennial 2003 Forward was four-time All-Area first-teamer who had 106 career goals (school-record 37 in one season); totaled 84 assists, twice finishing with 30

Amanda Greco Champaign Central 2009 Forward was three-time All-Area first-teamer who had 25 goals and 27 assists her final three seasons

Holly Green Champaign Central 2002 Goalkeeper was two-time All-Area first-teamer who had 54 career shutouts and registered a career 0.53 goals-against average

Erica Houk Urbana 2007 Forward was two-time All-Area first-teamer who had 34 goals and 17 assists in her final two seasons

Marissa Izatt Mahomet-Seymour 2004 Defender was three-time All-Area first-teamer who had 40 goals her final three seasons and 12 assists her last two years

Tricia Johnson Centennial 2002 Forward was three-time All-Area first-teamer who had 103 career goals (including three straight years with at least 30) and totaled 51 assists

Ella Masar Urbana 2004 Forward was three-time All-Area first-teamer who had 91 career goals, including a school-record 40 in one season

Erica Peters Champaign Central 2001 Striker was two-time All-Area first-teamer who had 58 career goals (school-record 28 in one season) and had 21 assists her final two years

Brittany Ward Centennial 2003 Forward was four-time All-Area first-teamer who had 102 career goals and school-record 86 career assists

Brooke Wikgren Centennial 2004 Goalkeeper was two-time All-Area first-teamer who posted a state-record 70 career shutouts (14 in a row) and allowed just six goals as junior

Lauren Wingo Urbana Uni High 2005 Forward was two-time All-Area first-teamer who had 66 career goals and 30 career assists

NEAR MISS: Katie Korder, Urbana, 2003, midfielder

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