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Sports

Bishop not about to quit

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 04:33 AM
LAND O' LAKES -

The next few weeks will be quiet and critical for Stacy Bishop, a brief time to reflect on the latest and most agonizing chapter of her life as a women's soccer player.

A standout at Land O' Lakes High until 2003 and a two-time All-Southeastern Conference pick at Louisiana State and Florida, Bishop was unable to hold down a roster spot with the Boston Breakers of the first-year, seven-team Women's Pro Soccer league.

The 69th pick of the most recent WPS draft, Bishop played in nine games, starting six, before she was waived by the Breakers in June.

A member of the Tampa Bay Hellenic Club, Bishop played there until she was re-signed for Boston's July 20 match with FC Gold Pride, playing 34 minutes. But it was a bittersweet goodbye to a squad that includes five Team USA players, including Kristine Lilly, who Bishop considers a friend and mentor.

"I did well, well enough to start, but after one of the games they told me they had to make a change," Bishop said. "Right now, I'm taking it easy and getting my love for the game back."

Now a free agent, Bishop must turn her attention to improving her game, essentially on her own, to entice a team to sign her before next season.

"In a few weeks I will start working out again," she said. "You can always improve on everything, but I do think it will help a lot having played in the league and learning from those players."

It might be unfair to consider Bishop's season a failure. Thousands of college athletes have dreams of becoming professionals in various sports, and women soccer players might have the longest odds because there are so few outlets to play in the United States.

Bishop defied the odds, earning one of approximately 150 WPS roster spots. By comparison, there are nearly 1,700 roster spots for NFL players.

As testament to her success, she still graces the front page of the Breakers' Web site, www.womens prosoccer.com/boston, as she was tied with Lilly for the team lead with two assists.

She wasn't taken aback by the pro game, either, fitting right in to the grueling practice schedule and faster speed. As for the Team USA players such as Lilly and Heather Mitts who she was proud to call teammates, Bishop said she respects all of them and hopes to play with or against them in the future.

"They were really supportive, and knew what it took to play at the highest level," Bishop said. "They carried us along and brought it every day."

With three expansion teams, including one in Atlanta, set to join WPS in 2010, Bishop is determined to stay in shape and improve in the offseason. While she would like to play as close to home as possible, she said she would be thrilled to get another chance with any club.

When asked if she considered next season pivotal in continuing to play professionally, Bishop said she has no thoughts of quitting.

"It's hard to think about next year, but I'm going to try my best to make it," she said. "I feel like I have a lot more to give."


Correspondent Bart O'Connell can be reached at tampasport@gmail.com.

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