Oct. 19, 2010
BERKELEY - While underclassmen might spend more time warming the bench than scoring goals as they adjust to the collegiate ranks, it is quite the opposite for sophomore forward Lauren Battung. Last season, Battung saw playing time in 13 of Cal's 21 matches, garnering significant playing time towards the end of the year. As a sophomore, Battung is currently second on the squad with six goals to her credit, including two in the 3-2 win over Washington on Oct. 15, as well as four assists.
Known as LB by her coaches and teammates, Battung has fit seamlessly into the Cal program - on and off the pitch.
"She is gifted with both feet and is both a goal-scorer and a provider of goals," Cal head coach Neil McGuire said. "LB's teammates have benefitted greatly from her play, in that she has the ability to make those around her better. More importantly she is a first class young lady in every sense. She is hard working, academically very motivated, and fun to be around."
Last season, Battung benefitted from playing with such Cal institutions as U.S. senior national team member Alex Morgan and former Golden Bear Lisa Kevorkian. Hardly one to complain about playing time, Battung utilized her tenured teammates' talent to grow personally.
"I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play alongside experienced players like Alex and Lisa," Battung said. "It has been simultaneously challenging and fun, but more than anything it has made me a better player. If there is one thing I have learned - and am still working on - from older players like them, it is the importance of having a fearlessness and a hunger that allows you to be dangerous at all times."
Battung came to Cal by way of Simi Valley, Calif., with a slew of athletics accomplishments already to her name. As a prepster at Chaminade High School, Battung earned a spot on the All-State First Team and was the Mission League Player of the Year and MVP in 2009 and 2008 after leading her squad in goals and assists. It was Battung's ball-handling skills that drew the attention of the Cal coaching staff.
"When I first saw LB play I was amazed by her ability with the ball," McGuire said. "She is arguably the most skillful player in Division 1 soccer and very difficult to play against so it was an easy decision to recruit her. Now she is here I have grown to appreciate her skill set even more.
Additionally, Battung was the captain and starting forward for her under-17 Camarillo Eagles club team, which was North-South California and Coast Soccer League Premier champion. A member of Olympic Development Program (ODP) state and regional teams from 2005-09, Battung played on the Cal South G91 ODP Team that was Region IV champion from 2006-08, national ODP semifinalist in 2008 and national ODP finalist in 2007. She also attended the U.S. under-15 national team 2006 camp and the national development training camp in 2007 for ODP. She also led her under-19 and under-16 teams to Surf Cup championships in 2008 and 2006, respectively. Of her experiences with high school and club soccer, Battung noted that she preferred the latter.
"I enjoyed club and ODP the best [over high school soccer] because of the camaraderie and opportunities to travel," Battung said. "In a similar way, they both also prepared me for Cal, more specifically Cal culture. Cal soccer values highly the idea of family. It was through club and ODP that I was able to play at a high level with many girls I am playing with now as well as form long-lasting friendships."
While student-athletes have a myriad of things to schedule - practice, review sessions, weights, studying, time in the training room, paper writing, traveling and of course, a social life - Battung adapted easily to life at Cal.
"I have settled into a routine here - the initial transition was not too difficult for me," Battung said. "By now, it's a pretty constant routine. Everything is getting easier and feeling more comfortable as far as preparation and scheduling."
In the classroom, Battung is majoring in environmental economics and policy and might pursue a minor in global poverty or a related arena. During her high school years, Battung volunteered with the homeless, mentally disabled adults and orphaned children. Her choice in major and past volunteer experience, though in different realms, have a central theme in common: effecting a lasting change.
"My major addresses the management of natural resources and the environment," Battung said of environmental economics and policy. "My interest in this major stems from wanting to do something that changes the world and really affects people's lives. It centers on problem solving issues regarding the allocation of resources, which is, of course, connected to the economic and social structure."
When Lauren is not studying, playing soccer or volunteering, she can be found making music. Battung can play the guitar, piano and drums and notes that she makes time to do what she loves in playing guitar. And she is not alone. Many of her fellow Bear student-athletes boast musical talents as well.
"I play guitar as an outlet from stress and the routine," Battung said. "It's also a relaxing bonding experience. I just started jamming with a few friends from other sports, and it's always so much fun. I'm still surprised by how many people around me are musicians, especially fellow athletes and teammates"
When asked what her favorite artist is, Battung was at a loss. She turned to words from her cousin to explain her inability to choose just one musician.
"I think my cousin put it perfectly: choosing a favorite artist (or song) is like choosing a favorite moment in time," Battung said. "I consider myself somewhat of an old soul. I love the old school feel. It's organic and different from most of the music we hear today. I guess I feel more of a connection to it than other types of music."
While you may not be seeing Lauren in concert anytime soon, there is still a good chunk of the Cal season left on the docket. The Bears are currently 7-3-4 overall and 2-2-0 in the Pac-10, one of the most, if not the most, challenging conference in all of college soccer. Cal travels to Arizona this weekend before hosting top-ranked Stanford on Oct. 30 and the Oregon schools on the first weekend in November. Battung commented that she is quite pleased with Cal's efforts thus far, but there is still more work to be done.
"We've put in a lot of work to prepare ourselves better than previous years," Battung said. "We have a lot of talent. For most of the season before Pac-10s, we had gotten some good results. Over the past several games, we've found a lot we need to work on, but I think this past weekend against the Washington schools was a turning point for us. We fixed a main problem, which was controlling the tempo in the last 10 minutes of the game. I think we are all proud of the character we have shown despite the results of some games like the one against USC. I'm looking forward to the rest of Pac-10s. We are all ready to commit to doing what is necessary to perform our best and to seed well in the NCAA tournament."