Lamb is a lioness when it comes to soccer

Annick Lamb on the soccer field (above) and off (below). (Lower photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Annick Lamb can hardly remember a time when she didn't play soccer. She's been into the game, she said, "pretty much my whole life."

That passion and persistence has paid off. Lamb has received a 2008-09 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

The scholarships--one-time grants of $7,500--are awarded each sports season to 58 student-athletes who excel academically and athletically and who are in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition. In Lamb's sports season (fall), 372 student-athletes applied for the scholarships.

Despite already having earned three prestigious All-American titles, four All West Region titles, and numerous other awards, Lamb didn't expect to win the Postgraduate Scholarship.

"I was surprised," said the modest Stevenson College senior, 21, who's majoring in biology. "It seemed out of reach."

Lamb is the first UCSC student-athlete to receive this recognition, according to Gene Switkes, professor of chemistry and faculty athletic representative. She is the only University of California student-athlete--and the only one from a California university--among the fall 2008-09 female awardees.

Lamb, who is originally from Santa Barbara, has "put a lot of work in both sides, as a soccer player and academically," said Michael Runeare, head coach of the women's soccer team.

She was captain of the team this past year, and works in the research laboratory of Professor of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology Alan Zahler. Last year, she participated in the Education Abroad Program in environmental biology in Costa Rica.

Lamb's scholarship is well deserved, said Runeare.

"She's a phenomenal athlete," he said. "She's tall and slender, and very coordinated. For soccer, often it's the smaller players who have the quick feet. She encompasses both--very good quickness, very athletic, great speed in the open field, very technical."

Lamb's greatest asset is her ability to score goals, Runeare said. She's set UCSC scoring records for career goals--59--and for career points--129.

But for Lamb, who plays forward, it's not just about winning, he said.

"I appreciate her drive and her focus, but I also appreciate that she still keeps things light," Runeare said. "She's got a great attitude, and she's not pretentious at all. Despite all these accomplishments, she's never been showy. And against opponents, she's never boisterous--it's not about her, but about the team."

It's that affinity for the team that has kept Lamb going all these years.

"I like having a team," she said. "It's like a family, almost. You really get to know them well. It's a really good bond to have with people."

That's why she felt strange accepting the previous awards she's won.

"It's a team sport," Lamb said. "I'm not very good at defense--my specialty is scoring goals. I think forwards always get more recognition. It takes away from the team, almost. I would rather get team awards."

But she was excited about winning the NCAA Postgraduate scholarship, since it was something she actively applied for rather than an award she received just by playing, she said.

She'd like to study physical therapy and sports training in graduate school, and she has her eye on a three-year program split between San Francisco State University and UC San Francisco.

But for now, she's focusing on classes and work, aiming to graduate next fall.

"I hope she stays involved with soccer," said Coach Runeare. "I hope she finds happiness and keeps pursuing her goals, and stays connected to the university, which I think she will."

A second UCSC student-athlete, men's soccer player Bobby Petro, was selected as an alternate in the men's 2008-09 NCAA Postgraduate scholarship competition.

Related links:

Information and a full listing of the 2008-09 awardees