(Feb. 14, 2014) Stephen Decatur High School senior Rebecca Lederman started playing soccer when she was just 3 years old. Around the age of 10, she knew she wanted to play the sport at the collegiate level.
“I really enjoyed playing soccer and a lot of it had to do with my dad encouraging me as a kid,” Lederman, 17, said Monday. “I started working toward being a college athlete.”
Lederman’s hard work paid off. She signed her official National Letter of Intent to play soccer for Canisius College, a Division I school in Buffalo, N.Y., last Thursday during a ceremony at her Berlin high school. She was awarded athletic and academic scholarships.
Lederman said she received e-mails from Division I, II and III college coaches and she was interested in several schools, but Canisius was the best fit.
“I’m definitely glad with my choice,” she said.
Lederman first visited the New York school last February and had the opportunity to meet some players.
She said she liked Buffalo and the size of the school, which has about 5,000 students. She also liked that Canisius is far away so she would be completely independent.
Lederman said she made a verbal commitment to Coach Jim Wendling quickly after her unofficial visit.
Her official visit to the campus was in September. Several recruits, including Lederman, stayed with members of the soccer team during the visit. They also got to watch the Golden Griffins compete.
“The girls are funny, they have their own personalities and they goof around off the field, but when they’re on the field they’re serious and they work together to get the job done,” Lederman said. “They’re a really aggressive team, which I like, and [the players] are refined in their skills.”
Lederman thinks she can fit right in with the team. Her goal, she said, is to earn a starting spot as a freshman.
“I know I’m going to have to work hard and stand out,” said Lederman, who is up to the challenge.
Lederman was a standout soccer player for Decatur’s varsity team since she was a freshman.
She played in the midfield for the first half of her freshman year, before Coach Misty Bunting moved her to the defensive line, where she stayed through her junior year. Lederman played in the back at the sweeper position for most of the 2012 season, but when the Lady Seahawks struggled to put the ball in the net, Bunting put her on the forward line to get the job done.
Lederman led the team with 25 goals. She also had three assists. During her career at Decatur, she tallied 33 goals and six assists.
Lederman earned All-Bayside Conference honors all four years she played for Decatur, and was named the team’s defensive MVP her sophomore year, and offensive MVP her senior year.
Bunting said “This certainly speaks to her versatility as a player.”
“Rebecca has played several positions as part of our team the past four years. She is incredibly fast and aggressive and there aren’t many players in our conference who can keep up with her,” Bunting said. “She has a natural talent and incredible instincts and she is the one who has not only kept us in games defensively, but has been the offensive winning factor in several, as well.”
She credits Bunting and her club team coach, Shibaji Chakraborty, for “helping make me a great player.”
Lederman also thanked her parents, Russ and Christy, for always encouraging her.
Originally, she thought she would play forward for Canisius, but now Lederman said her coach is leaning more toward her on the defensive line.
“Anywhere he wants me to play I’ll play,” she said.
Before she heads off to New York, Lederman will compete in her fourth outdoor track season for Decatur beginning in March.
Pre-season for soccer is scheduled to start Aug. 9. A Division I sport is a full-time, year-round commitment, and as a member of Canisius’ honors college program, Lederman will have her hands full balancing school and soccer.
“It’s a big commitment. Hopefully it won’t be too bad,” she said.
She added that she is considering majors, including experimental or clinical psychology.