Spotlight on the Gophers 100








There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. Beginning this week and throughout the 2013-14 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight these players.

This week: Freshmen soccer players Simone Kolander and Rashida Beal


Soccer is an always-in-motion game, demanding tip-top conditioning from its players.  But it is also a low-scoring game.

Rashida Beal (l)  and Simone Kolander
Rashida Beal (l)
and Simone Kolander

It wasn’t a “Rainy Night in Georgia” but rather a cold, rainy Friday night in October at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, the home of the Gophers’ women soccer team, better known as “the Robbie” on Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus. Three hours later, Minnesota and Ohio State battled to a 0-0 tie.

“The outcome is frustrating, but we played to the end and got the shutout,” noted Rashida Beal, a 5’-4” defender from Germantown, Wis.

“It was just as cold for them as it was for us,” added Simone Kolander, a 5’-11” forward/midfielder from Lakeville. “I think we handled [the weather conditions] well.  We’re Minnesotans and we’re used to it.”

Kolander and Beal are the only two Black players and two of eight freshmen on this year’s 11-8-2 squad. “We all get along off the field,” said Kolander on the 2013 Gophers. “We did a really good job of adjusting.”

Minnesota’s season ended last weekend, however, with a 3-0 loss to Texas Tech in the NCAA first round.

The two Gopher freshmen admit that college life up to this point has been somewhat eye-opening. “It’s been a lot more challenging that I expected,” said Kolander.

“We haven’t really done anything besides school and soccer,” said Beal. “We are just living the student-athlete life — playing, going to class, and doing homework.

New Gopher women hoopsters

Two-fifths of Minnesota’s women’s basketball signing class is players of color.  Rangie Bessard (Rosharon, Texas) and Tory Jacobs (Irving, Texas) were among five players who last week signed National Letters of Intent with Minnesota.

The six-foot Bessard, according to the school press release, is an honor roll student in her school’s advanced placement program and plans to pursue a pre-med degree. She has scored over 1,000 points between her sophomore and junior seasons as a forward.

“When I arrived on campus and was greeted by the team, coaching staff, counselors and professors, I knew that this would be my new family away from home,” recalled Bessard of her official campus visit. “With my intended major being pre-med, the University of Minnesota fit well because it has one of the top major medical programs in the country.”

Jacobs is the second-highest ranked player in the 2014 U of M recruiting class — one rating service has the four-year varsity guard 18th in the nation among off-guards. “Tory is a point guard at heart, but she plays positions one through three,” said her mother, Sheryce Jacobs. “I think Minnesota is a good fit for Tory because it has always had successful guard play. She really gelled well with the girls when she went to visit.”

“I’m excited about being in the Big Ten,” said Tory. “It will be a challenge to separate yourself from the players you’re competing against.”


Read about the end of the Minnesota women’s hockey team’s 62-game winning streak in “Sports Odds and Ends” on this week’s MSR website.

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