For several months now, former Teurlings Catholic soccer star Brooke Conque has kind of been missing the game.
Her daydreams about the sport that has dominated her recreational time since she was 4 years old have largely revolved around the last time she walked off the field in uniform back in February — as a back-to-back Division II girls state champion.
Or so she thought.
Conque will actually get one more chance to shine on the soccer field on Saturday as one of the four Acadiana area members on the West squad in the 2012 LHSSCA All-Star Soccer Games at UL’s Track and Soccer Complex.
Conque and the girls will get Saturday’s doubleheader going at 4 p.m., followed by the boys All-Star Game at 7 p.m.
“Yes, it was exciting because we had just won the state championship,” Conque said, “but I also kept thinking, ‘Yep, that was my last game ever’. It was kind of sad for a few weeks.”
That strange mix between celebrating her championship career and sorrow over it ending has since blended in with the reality of Conque’s future. Unlike many of the boys and girls on Saturday’s All-Star rosters, Conque didn’t return directly to her club team. Instead, she began working in preparation for beginning her academic career at UL.
Consequently, it figures to be a nostalgic return to the playing field for Conque.
“Yeah, it’s going to be interesting,” she laughed. “I’ve been working so much that I really haven’t had any time to practice. It’s going to be a little bit awkward, but it’s not like I forgot how to play the game. I’ve been playing it since I was 4.
“I’m looking forward to it. I was hoping to be able to play again. It’s going to be fun.”
Conque said that she’s even more uncertain of what to expect, because she’s not familiar with the West coaching staff or many of the teammates.
“I think I was listed as a center-mid,” she said. “That’s what I mostly played in high school, but it’s not a big deal.”
That’s where Conque’s years of experience should pay off. In years past, she’s joined other club teams from around the state late in the season with easy transitions.
“It’s not like football where you have to learn a bunch of plays,” she said. “If you have players who know how to play the team, it will come together. You can pick things up pretty quickly.”
Conque certainly made enough plays during her senior season to last a few months with 26 goals and 36 assists.
The All-Stars will go through a two-hour practice Saturday in an attempt to try to sort out positions and develop some sense of team chemistry prior to the game.
Conque will be joined by fellow Acadiana area standouts as ESA’s Jessica Boagni, Westgate’s Kelley Clancey and Teurlings teammate Madeline Weber in Saturday’s game.
While this All-Star game figures to be Conque’s last game as a participant in organized soccer, it certainly won’t be the end to her connection to the game.
In fact, she already has plans on coaching the middle school team at Cathedral-Carmel and has hopes of coaching in club or high school as well — possibly even at Teurlings one day,
“I want to try to be that coach that I always wanted to have,” she said. “Still be strict, but not too strict. Still be competitive, because I hate to lose. I’m big on technique. Some coaches are big on fitness and then technique. I believe in technique first and then fitness.”
The boys side of Saturday’s doubleheader will feature a lot more Acadiana area representatives.
While four local girls are slated to play, nine area boys players are scheduled to play.
Make that nine players and one coach in Acadiana High’s Jan Richard.
“It’s my first time,” Richard said. “I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to be very interesting.”
Richard and the other West All-Star coaches have a tough chore of practicing a team for two hours and then decided who should play where later that evening.
“That’s going to be the tough part,” he said. “We’re just going to have a training session and then try to see if we can reach some conclusions. That’s going to be tough because we’re going getting them for a short time, but ultimately we have to keep in mind that it’s really about the kids having fun.”
Richard said that adding to his intrigue is going to be the opportunity of coaching players he’s played against on a regular basis or been familiar with in club soccer.
Among the names fitting that description are the Lafayette High trio of Cullen Gallet, Josh Tharpe and Neil Trahan, as well as St. Thomas More’s Josh Pontiff and Tommy Keating.
Other locals on the roster are Beau Chene’s Braeden Hollier, Westminster’s Brian Dupont and the Teurlings Catholic duo of Seth Fuselier and Kyle Robicheaux.
Richard is just coming off a successful club season in which he brought the U16 premier Fury team to the Regionals in Greenville, S.C. The Fury went 1-1-1 and tied the team that eventually won the tournament title.
“That’s a great experience,” Richard said. “I think the kids learned a lot about where they stand.”