Diamond in the Rough
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
At a tournament in Houston nearly five years ago, University of Memphis women’s soccer head coach Brooks Monaghan was scouting players on one field when he decided to make a food run. As he passed by another field on his way to a hot dog stand, something caught his eye: a player that he knew relatively little about “did something special,” he recalls.
That player was senior midfielder Vendula Strnadova, a soccer diamond in the rough. Now in her senior season as one of Memphis’ most productive players, Strnadova has earned many national and conference honors in addition to being a model for excellence off the field.
“She has put together a great career in her three years and we expect the same this year. She is the complete package when you look for a soccer student-athlete,” said Head Coach Brooks Monaghan.
A six-time Dean’s List honoree, Strnadova has been awarded the C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal all three seasons while also being named to the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll in 2008-10. In 2009, Strnadova was honored as a Second Team NSCAA/Adidas Scholar All-American and Third Team CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-American.
“We’re here to do school first,” said Strnadova. “It’s hard to balance the lifestyle of being a student-athlete, but our team uses the resources available and just gets it done.”
As a leader of the three-time C-USA Champions, Strnadova leads by example with her extraordinary work ethic on and off the field. Shy and unassuming, Strnadova would rather let her game do the talking on the field and carry her through conference championships and nationally prominent matchups, earning nine game-winning goals.
“She has the mentality of a pro,” said Monaghan. “She works her tail off. She’s a quiet kid, but she leads by example day in and day out and she’s been a big reason this program has reached the heights it has.”
In the community, Strnadova has assisted the Habitat for Humanity in the greater Memphis area as well as at sites of past Conference USA Tournaments. While in Houston, Texas for the 2008 C-USA Tournament, Strnadova took time to volunteer at Texas Children’s Hospital.
On the field, Strnadova has produced record setting numbers and is in position to topple several school records by the end of her final season. The 2008 C-USA Offensive Player of the Year, Strnadova has posted 19 career goals and 10 career assists in 64 career starts to accompany the second-most shots in school history with 181.
She is a two-time NSCAA All-Central Region First Team selection (2008-09). In her three seasons donning the Blue and Gray, Strnadova has earned first team All-C-USA honors each season. A three-time C-USA Champion, Strnadova was selected as Soccer Buzz Central Region first team in 2007 and 2008, Soccer Buzz Freshman All-America second team and was the Soccer Buzz Central Region Freshman of the Year in 2007.
As a member of the winningest class in program history with over 50 wins, Strnadova eyes a fourth-straight C-USA Championship ring and a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time.
The Las Cruces, N.M. native became Memphis’ first Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award nominee in the preseason. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.
Strnadova and the Lady Tigers are Back 4 More in 2010 as they seek their fourth straight Conference USA Championship. The goals don’t stop there, however.
“I really want to win more games than my freshman year when we won 17 games,” said Strnadova. “Getting farther into the NCAA’s is definitely a team goal, too.”
– This story originally appeared in the Sept. 24 edition of the Memphis football Gameday program.