Oct. 5, 2000
By Mike Kreiger, WSU Sports Information
For the DeWitt family, soccer is life, and the rest is just details. Enter Deka DeWitt, the lone senior and top returning scorer on the Washington State soccer team. She ranks second on the all-time WSU list in points, goals, shots, game-winning goals and multiple-goal matches.
DeWitt has played soccer since she was four years of age. Coaching her first team was none other than her mother, Trufonda. When DeWitt was 13, she moved on to another coach, her father Robert, whom she credits with teaching her the basics. During her freshman year for the Cougars, she was playing alongside her sister Shalli. This family just cannot get enough soccer.
"Everything for me pretty much revolves around soccer," said DeWitt, a native of Auburn, Wash. "I played other sports in high school, but soccer was always the main one. I played on my high school and club soccer teams. The other sports were just a release from soccer. Since I was four or five, I knew that's what I wanted to do with my life. I love it. My sisters were involved with it as well."
Her club team, the F.C. Royals, won the U-17 1996 national championship. DeWitt started on that team, and she scored the goal in regulation of the championship match that sent the game to overtime and a 2-1 victory. WSU Coach Dan Tobias loves the way DeWitt plays the game. "She has the unique ability to get a small gap and create a scoring opportunity, and she always makes something out of nothing," Tobias said. "She's not going to win any pure sprint races because she's not that kind of player. But she's a smart, crafty player." This season's team, despite being extremely young, looks as competitive as ever to DeWitt. She believes this team can play with the likes of Stanford and Washington.
"We're doing really well," DeWitt said. "The team looks good. We had a really good trip on the East Coast, and we proved a lot in the opening weeks. We're just getting stronger and continuing to play well. We want to prove to everyone else that we are an influence in the Pac-10. We're coming out to play hard and turn some heads. We were a .500 team a few years ago, and we can get back there. We want to be able to play with the elite teams in our conference." DeWitt, who led the team in goals and assists last season, does not put a lot of emphasis on records and statistics. "Stats aren't a concern of mine," DeWitt said. "I'm just looking for myself to do well. I'm really hard on myself, so even if I do happen to score, if it's not up to where I feel I played a good game, I'll still be dissatisfied. If we come out and play hard, and I did my part without scoring, I'll walk away happy. It's not so much me trying to look good with stats, it's more for the team to play well."
Despite not being interested in statistics, DeWitt is currently tied for the school assist record with 14. Being the lone senior on the team, it is assumed DeWitt is a leader. She leads, but it is not the typical vocal type of leader.
"Of the three captains, DeWitt is the leader by example," Tobias said. "People watch her play in the games, and they're in awe. She does things, and people wonder how she pulled it off. It's just her instinctive, innate abilities. She brings that gamesmanship, little things that don't show up in the box score. She understands she's going to draw a lot of coverage from our opponents. She draws attention and creates openings for her teammates. She does a lot of intangible things that I hope the younger players will look at and try to emulate."
The Cougars' leading scorer for three consecutive years, DeWitt wants to finish her collegiate career with a bang.
"I'm realizing I've got a month and it's going to be over," DeWitt said. "Personally, I want to end the season on a good note and play hard. I don't want to look back on my career and see it end on a negative note. I want to know I've done all I can and leave it all on the field." DeWitt, a member of the Pac-10 All-Conference second team last season, likes the play of this young team and is particularly impressed with the play of the freshmen.
"I've played with the junior class when they came in as freshmen, so we've jelled really well. We were kind of unsure about the freshmen coming in, but they've played well. The freshmen are playing hard and adjusting well to Division I soccer."
After graduation, DeWitt, a history major, looks to enter a field in which she is already familiar.
"I would like to be a college soccer coach," DeWitt said. "I need to start making contacts. I would like to go back home, or for sure on the West Coast. I'd like to stay where it's not very hot."
Tobias believes DeWitt will be a solid coach.
"She worked the Washington State summer camp," Tobias said. "She's knows and sees everything. She just needs to work on describing everything in a concise manner to the team she's working with. She's hard on herself, which is a great quality for a coach to have, and she's never satisfied. She understands and has a real passion for the game. Having the passion, knowledge and experience will only help her down the road."
DeWitt has the symbol for change tattooed on her lower right leg. She loves it, despite the excruciating pain it caused her.
"There's always room for change, and everybody needs change," she said with a smile.
When DeWitt graduates and leaves Pullman, she will change wherever she goes. If she needs any help, she knows she can always turn to her family.