Intercollegiate athletics coaches often will say that the best leaders are those who lead by example.
Tricia Mallory, the only senior on a young 2013 Sam Houston women’s soccer squad, is that kind of leader.
Entering her senior season ranked as the Bearkats’ second-leading all-time goal scorer, the three-time All-Southland Conference forward needs only six more scores to set the school career record.
But, before the year started, head coach Tom Brown asked the Klein High School product from Spring to move from forward back into center midfield. While the switch likely would cut down Mallory’s scoring opportunities, the head coach felt the move would benefit the team’s overall productivity this fall.
“Everything has worked out well,” Brown said. “Tricia is having a terrific season. She’s good in the air and has been dominate in the midfield.”
With 11 freshmen and two transfers on the Bearkats’ 26-player roster in 2013, Brown felt Mallory’s leadership and experience would be a plus in the midfield where she touches the ball more often.
“The young players all look to her to help them get better,” Brown said. “The move to the midfield allows her to be in a position where she is more involved on both defense and offense. She is our leader.”
An All-District player at Klein High School and member of several championship club teams, Mallory knows the importance of her role during her final season of college soccer.
“For me, being the oldest and knowing how to get things done, I lead by example and show the younger players how we do things here,” Mallory said. “I played center back during the spring and got used to it.”
Coming into the 2013 season with more than 4,800 minutes of playing time in 62 matches her first three seasons, Mallory made an immediate impact on the Sam Houston program. She was Southland Conference “Freshman of the Year” in 2010, scoring 11 goals. She was the team’s “Co-Most Valuable Player” as a sophomore in 2011. Each of her three seasons, she has helped lead the Bearkats to Southland post-season tournament berths.
“I played center back my whole life before coming to Sam Houston,” Mallory said. “It was here that I moved up front. So it’s kind of going back to what I’ve always known. It’s fun. You get to work with everybody and interact with everyone. It’s good.”
Picking Sam Houston as her college home wasn’t difficult for Mallory.
“My mother is a Sam Houston graduate,” Mallory said. “I liked the campus when I visited and love playing here.”
Coach Brown also points to Mallory’s leadership in the class room as an important aspect of her role on the team.
“Our athletic department goal at Sam Houston is to define the term ‘student-athlete’ and no one does that better than Tricia,” Brown said. “She is fantastic in the class room. We’re very fortunate to have her as a part of our program.”
An accounting major who intends to attend graduate school and become a certified public accountant, Mallory owns a 3.87 overall grade point average and is a two-time Academic All-Southland Conference honoree.
On the field, Mallory and her teammates look to continue their success in recent years. The Bearkats currently face a three-week road swing. But they return to Joseph Pritchett Field for six important Southland matches beginning with a showdown with Stephen F. Austin Sunday Oct. 6 at 1 p.m.
Brown believes the midfielder’s influence in the midfield, a defense anchored by 2012 “Freshman of the Year” goalkeeper Kylie Hambleton and a talented young front line will be key factors for the team this fall.
“Tricia has adapted to the change faster than I thought she would,” Brown said. “Initially, she may have had a little loss of confidence, but she knew that this move was going to make the team better. She is having a big impact on the team and she is understanding her significance the in the role now.”