Oct. 16, 2004
by Veronica White
Tina Frimpong isn't your average soccer mom.
Four years ago, Frimpong was one of the West Coast's most sought-after prep recruits, having earned numerous prep accolades and starred on select teams that traveled around the world. Having turned down the chance to stay close to home and attend Washington, or to travel to Florida to play with her twin sister, Crystal, Frimpong was instead headed to California, where a scholarship offer from the No. 1-ranked Santa Clara Broncos awaited.
Just weeks before heading to Santa Clara, however, Frimpong learned she was pregnant.
"I knew my life had changed forever," she says.
Frimpong opted to give up her soccer dream in favor of motherhood, enrolling instead at Vancouver's Clark College. About three to four months into her pregnancy, however, Frimpong felt the pull back to soccer. Wanting to still be close to her family in Vancouver, Frimpong placed a call to Washington's Lesle Gallimore.
"I told her, `This is what I can do for you, but this is what you're going to have to do for yourself,'" Gallimore recalls. "She had to do way more for herself than I had to do for her. Anything I have ever asked of her she's done and then some. She doesn't take for granted one moment of the privilege she has been given. She cherishes every moment. It's a delight to coach her because she's attentive and soaking up everything she can."
While the daily concerns of most collegiate forwards range from finding their classes to finding the net, Frimpong has the added responsibility of raising her daughter, MacKenzie, now three years old.
"I just take one thing at a time," she says. "My greatest accomplishment thus far in my career is MacKenzie. Having her healthy and happy, while also playing a sport and going to school -- sometimes I sit back and think, `Wow, how did we do this?' The whole thing is a huge accomplishment."
When Frimpong says "we," she is referring to what she calls her "awesome support system" comprised of teammates, parents and MacKenzie's father, Brad.
That support system has helped Frimpong to earn many fans at Washington with her outstanding play -- the 2003 Pac-10 Player of the Year is Washington's all-time leading scorer -- but the fan who matters most to her stands just three feet tall, and can be picked out by her distinctive cheer, "Go, Mom!"
"She's at all my home games; she's just like my little fan," Frimpong says. "I can have the worst practice and then come home to her just smiling and happy, and it makes me forget about it all. I feel blessed that I got to have this experience."
Frimpong isn't the only one who has been blessed. The senior's eight goals this season give her 35 for her career, one more than Bennett's UW record, and have helped the Husky women to a program-best 10-2-1 start. Washington's wins include upsets of top-10 opponents in Portland, Penn State and Tennessee, and lifted the team as high as No. 4 in the national polls earlier this month.
Interestingly, a team with several freshmen in its starting lineup has often turned to Frimpong for leadership and counsel, a role she's more than familiar with already.
"I want to teach the young ones how it is to be a Husky," she says. "My goal is to be a team player. As seniors, we want to leave an impression behind, so that people will talk about `that 2004 year.'"
While Husky soccer fans would no doubt love to see Frimpong in the professional ranks, she currently does not plan on pursuing a professional career, and is instead studying to be a dental hygienist.
"I want to spend every moment with my daughter, and be a more at-home mom," she says.
Frimpong has a more important fan to please.