Offers from Notre Dame, Utah, UVU, BYU–Hawaii and even Utah State just didn’t seem right to her. But BYU, the school she really wanted to attend, had shown little interest.
“No matter how hard I tried, BYU wouldn’t take me,” BYU goalkeeper Erica Owens said. “They already had enough keepers and so I settled on Utah State, though I never really felt good about my decision. Then one random day, BYU contacted me and said one of their goalies was transferring. I tried to play it cool and told them I had a lot of offers and would let them know when I decided. But when I hung up the phone, I was so happy I yelled ‘Mom I got into BYU!'”
This is how the blossoming career of BYU women’s soccer star Erica Owens began.
But the goal-keeping talent that serenades fans at South Field on game days has only been in the works for a few years. As a high school junior, Owens was moved from her natural soccer position of forward to goalkeeper because of her height. Despite hating it at first, after a few successful starts, Erica grew into her new role and started to make the goal her home away from home.
Soon BYU would make an offer to Owens and she would be full of joy and peace. But the feeling wouldn’t last.
The day after the NCAA’s official signing day, Erica’s family faced a terrible tragedy: Owens’ brother Chris died suddenly. The shock was very hard on the family and took Owens from the top of the world to the bottom.
“We really loved each other,” Owens said. “We would do everything together. He rocked at everything he did, and I wanted to be like him in every way.”
Many difficult weeks followed as Owens found herself in an unsolvable maze. Her mother, Korin Cooper Owens, relates it was difficult, but there were things that helped Owens get through it.
“She had some times when she would crash, but she’d just get back up,” her mother said. “Her strength is she’s always been a very cheerful and positive person. She did a lot of soul searching, focused on others, relied on the principles of the gospel, prayer, scripture and church attendance to help keep her afloat.”
This positive attitude and putting others first can be an example to everyone in tough times as Owens is now one of the most likable people at BYU, according to teammate Cami Jensen.
“Erica is very easy to get along with, very willing to go out of her way to help people,” Jensen said. “She’s so much fun and I really admire the things she’s had to deal with and the way she’s still so uplifting and inspiring.”
Not only does Owens make friends with everyone she knows, but she also brings smiles and cheers to everyone who comes to the South Field to watch the No. 6 BYU women’s soccer team.
“She’s been an unbelievable addition to this team, and she’s going be successful at everything she does because of her personality, standards and belief set,” BYU soccer Coach Jennifer Rockwood said.
Owens’ wonderful cheerfulness, amazing work ethic and strong spirit have been a spark for the women’s soccer team and BYU in general. Though she gives all the credit to her team and especially her defensive line, Owens epitomizes what it means to be the leader of a top national program and university.
“She’s definitely come into her own this year,” former BYU star goalkeeper McKinzie Olson said. “She’s really stepped up and become a leader for this team, which is tough to do after not playing for a couple years, but she just works so hard. Every single day she goes out there and pushes herself as hard as she can both on and off the field. She is the Michael Phelps of BYU soccer.”