Colleen Zea was a 4 year letterwinner in soccer for the Texas Longhorns from 1999 to 2002. During her collegiate career she played in 42 games for Texas and battled against the Aggies five times. Colleen will be back in Austin with her teammates on Friday for Texas Soccer’s Letterwinner Reunion and the traditional end of season game against A&M. Colleen was kind enough to share her memories of playing against A&M during her career.
By Colleen Zea, Texas ’03
I’m originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where I grew up playing soccer. In my junior year of high school I knew I wanted to play for Chris Petrucelli at Notre Dame. When I became a senior, Chris was hired as the coach for the University of Texas, a school I knew little about. I called Chris to see if he had any spots available on his ’99-’00 squad, and he said that he would bring me down for an official visit.
As soon as I got off the plane in Austin, I was hooked. I fell in love with the city, and during my visit at the school, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to go to the University of Texas.
During that trip to Austin I heard stories of the rivalry with Texas A&M. The tales were unlike anything that I’d ever heard of before. You could see the passion in everyone’s eyes when they spoke of the Longhorn rivalry with the Aggies. Everyone understood and conveyed what it meant to be proud of the institution they were a part of. From that moment on, I couldn’t wait to feel the same passion.
When I arrived on campus as a freshman during preseason in August of ’99, the rivalry between Texas and A&M was everywhere I looked. The upperclassmen and Texas natives on the team were quick to educate me. While every game mattered as the season began, the game at the end of the season against the Aggies was special. The A&M game was always about pride for ourselves.. pride for our team, our coaches, and the University of Texas.
The one match that actually stands out the most for me during my time at Texas was when we played against A&M in College Station during my sophomore year. The grandstands at Ellis Field are less than five feet from the sideline, leaving very little room for a throw-in approach. Playing at outside mid, I had to practically stand right among the Aggies there while bringing the ball back into play. The Aggies had their obnoxious yell-leaders right on the sideline. It was crazy. But we still had our own sea of burnt orange in the bleachers. The rush that the team felt that day, walking onto the field, was immediate and lasting. Even though we ended up losing the game in overtime, it was one of the hardest fought battles my teammates and I ever experienced during my career.
The rivalry that Texas has with A&M is the epitome of what is pure in collegiate athletics. It’s what makes being a part of such a great institution so amazing. It’s what creates camaraderie and team spirit. It’s what fuels passion for an athlete to give a hundred and ten percent to represent their school and their teammates. And it’s what also keeps alumni rooting for their team for years to come.