MURFREESBORO – Callie Ruf grew up in the Murfreesboro Soccer Club as a Lady Striker.
The recent Siegel High graduate and future University of the South collegiate player had played travel soccer for MSC since the third grade.
However, that era ended last week during the Tennessee State Soccer Cup. Ruf and the rest of her Murfreesboro Lady Strikers ’97 teammates capped their travel ball careers with a 2-1 win over Clarksville Soccer Club 15 in the Division 2 Under 18 state championship.
It meant a fitting ending for the team, which include a roster mainly comprised of Rutherford County standouts.
“Some of us had been playing together for years,” Ruf said. “It was a really hard day for us. We won, but it was our last game together.
“They are like (my family).”
The Lady Strikers team members had competed in Division I — the elite level — for most of their travel soccer careers. As freshmen, they reached the Division I Southern Regionals as a U15 team. More than half the current team participated on that squad.
But with some deciding not to play their final year, the coaches chose to participate in Division II this year.
“A lot of the parents talked about this being a storybook ending for them,” said Leann Ruff, Callie Ruf’s mom and team manager. “They had been competing together for years.”
And they ended on top.
“It didn’t really seem real,” said Madeline Rose, a recent Oakland graduate. “There has always been an ending to the season, but then we’d come back next year. But we won’t now.”
Local players on the team included 12 former Rutherford County players. The team included five from Siegel — Emma Adcock, Becca Mullendore, Ruf, Chelsey Russom and Cori Stenagle. Three came from Blackman — Colleen Kennedy, Zoe Phillips and Megan Woods. And two were from Oakland — Katie Collins and Madeline Rose — and two were from Smyrna — Sierra Franz and Kenzie Wrather.
The team was coached by Jordan Salisbury.
Rose, who has been part of the Strikers since the fifth grade, will attend MTSU in the fall. She said she may continue to play soccer on a club team. However, the former Lady Patriot said her skills greatly increased due to playing travel ball.
“It helped me become a better player,” Rose said. “I wasn’t originally going to play, but my family finally pushed me to play. Playing for the Strikers pushed me as a player because of the competitiveness.”
As a whole, the squad had more than 100 years of playing experience for the Strikers, with some of the team beginning to play as 8- and 9-year-olds.
“I made a lot of friends playing for the Strikers,” said Franz, who will play at UT-Martin in the fall. Everyone was just so close. Now we are departing to different places.
“I’ll miss how close everyone was and how everyone had each other’s back.”
Contact Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.