BY CLAY BRYCE | Ball State Sports Link
Turning tragedy into success is a common story in any sport. Whether it is growing up poor, or suffering a tragic loss, athletes must learn to thrive off of anguish.
Tristin Stuteville is one player who has turned tragedy into fuel to help accelerate her meaning out on the field. Racking up 58 saves facing 161 shots and only letting up 11 goals, the graduate student in her fourth year at Ball State is excelling, to say the least.
Tristin Stuteville’s elite play is not going to slow down any time soon. Being a superstitious person, she has a certain order in which she has done things for the entire season, and it’s proved successful.
These are tasks that Tristin Stuteville does to get dialed in. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019:
9:30 a.m. Tristin Stuteville rises from bed and gets dressed with a busy day ahead.
Stuteville is craving a filling breakfast on game-day, so she heads to a local coffee shop in Muncie, The Caffienery. She gets a morning boost from a vanilla latte and ceases her hunger with an Asiago bagel.
Stuteville is in her last semester at Ball State and lives alone. With the mentality of always being busy, she heads to Target to walk around for a bit. After getting her body moving, she heads back home to relax for a while. Stuteville takes some time to prepare for the upcoming game.
“I like to look at our scout and get polished up on their stats and who to look for,” Stuteville explains. “I do that just so I feel as confident as possible going into the game.”
Stuteville then braids her hair and searches for her uniform items. Just before leaving, she remembers to grab her yellow rubber-band for her braid.
“It’s a superstition thing,” Stuteville said. “I did it once, and I had a really good feeling about it, and I have been playing well. It started last year against Morehead State, and I’ve been doing it since.”
Stuteville heads to her kitchen to grab a Nature Valley bar and Scooby-Doo Fruit Snacks. She then heads out to her car and towards the Briner Sports Complex.
2:50 p.m. Stuteville gets to the field and heads straight to the locker room. She is known to be early to things, so she spends this time alone gathering her thoughts and equipment. She finds her light-blue headband, which she wears every game. Another superstition comes out for her, and its roots go down to training.
“It changes every season and it goes off with my summer training. I had a rotation of three headbands this summer, and whenever I wore my light blue, I had a crazy session. I was coming off of my shoulder surgery and that was where I felt back to myself again. So, I decided this is my color this year.”
Obviously, it worked.
It’s time to get dressed before the game. Stuteville is also very meticulous with the way she puts on her uniform. She has a specific pair of spandex that she wears with each uniform color. Then she always has to put on her right sock first, followed by the left. This is the same case for her shin guards and shoes.
Stuteville wanted to step away from being stuck to her music this season, but she still listens to some. It has to be upbeat for her to get in the right mood to play. Cardi B, Logic and The Score.
This season, she has taken a bigger step into her own mind.
“I have to evaluate how I’m feeling that day. It’s telling myself that you’ve got this, you’ve been here before, you’ve worked your butt off to get to where you are right now, and you just have to trust yourself. You’ve done absolutely everything you can do to prepare for this game. Trust yourself and don’t think about it.”
Stuteville proves her strong mindset on the field every week. She also mentors the younger goalkeeper Alex DeRuvo. Their lockers are directly next to each other and they sit by each other in the group circle.
In the circle, the teammates chat for a bit before they head to the field. Stuteville leaves the circle for a moment to go back to her locker and write three initials on her wrist. She then heads back to the circle for a team prayer led by Sam Kambol. Then, teammates one by one have the opportunity to say something as it goes around the circle.
3:15 p.m. Time to take the field. One last song is played over the speakers of the locker room, that song is 23 by Miley Cyrus. Seniors lead the pack of players out from their locker room under Scheumann Stadium.
Stuteville starts to eat her Scooby-Doo fruit snacks and makes sure she always gives the last one to Peighton Cook. Of course, it has to be purple.
While walking out, the players take their foam rollers and begin bashing them against the walls. They yell out and energy levels begin to elevate.
Warm-ups are now underway on the field. Things need to be in a specific order and fashion in order for Stuteville to be comfortable during this time.
“I always have to lay the cones out, and then I put my gloves on. We do the same warm up every single time in the same order. I like everything to be the same if it can be. I understand it’s not going to be every time, but for me it’s very relaxing and comforting. I know that’s what’s going to prepare me for the fame. I feel fully prepared.”
Stuteville values her time warming up and works hard at it. Practicing her footwork and handling then goes into her diving drills. Being the prolific saver that she is these drills are great primers for her game.
The game is coming closer to fruition and the team gets into a huddle. Coach Rife speaks on the goals of the game and what they have to do to get the win. Once the huddle is broken, Stuteville goes around and high five each one of her defenders.
“It’s kind of like what makes us a unit. Like hey, us five are going to stick together this game.”
Before kick-off Stuteville takes one last look at her wrists. KQ, BP and TD are inscribed.
KQ stands for Kori Quinn, Stuteville’s best friend who passed away of Ewing’s Sarcoma. Stuteville played with Quinn on the Lou Fusz club team in high school. Stuteville was close with Quinn as she went through her five-year battle with cancer. Quinn passed away in 2014.
Ben Pinkerton is the next initial. Pinkerton is a former Virginia Tech goalkeeper who coached Stuteville. Pinkerton also had a hard-fought battle with cancer and passed away in 2015.
The final initial of TD stands for Tony DiCicco. DiCicco is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and former coach of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. DiCicco was another role model for Stuteville as he coached her on her journey. DiCicco passed away in 2017.
“It is important for me to take the three of them out on the field with me every day. And just remember why I’m playing and not to take anything for granted. Enjoy the moment, because I have the opportunity and the privilege to have it.”
Stuteville begins to think about all of her teammates and her own reliance on them.
“I have a great group of girls in front of me. We trust in each other and believe in each other. One way or the other, we’re going to get the job done.”
Now it’s time to execute.
She heads out to her goal before kick-off. Every player has taken their position on the field and are awaiting for the first to whistle blow. Stuteville glances at all of her teammates and remembers everything she has been taught up to this point.
In this moment, Tristin Stuteville is dialed in.