Washburn senior co-captain Charlotte DeVaughn during a drill at practice in the rain Monday after school. ] JEFF WHEELER ï firstname.lastname@example.org The Washburn Millers girl's soccer team heads into the playoffs next week. The team practiced
To be honest, Charlotte DeVaughn doesn’t pay much attention to the fuss about her.
A senior defender for Minneapolis Washburn’s highly ranked girls’ soccer team, DeVaughn is the picture of cool. She’s fast without looking it, intelligent in an innate sense, a steady hand (or, more accurately, foot) when the game gets turbulent.
“When she has the ball, it’s like ‘Whew, everything’s going to be fine,’ ” said Millers co-coach Reuben Ndely.
The 5-8 DeVaughn has long been considered one of the state’s top players, a defensive stalwart since her varsity debut as a freshman. An all-metro and all-state selection as a junior, she was selected to the Top Drawer Soccer High School All-America watch list. Her presence on the back line is the foundation for the success of the Millers, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A.
Yet, even with all the accolades and plaudits, DeVaughn sees herself as a player simply out doing something she enjoys.
“I don’t have definitive goals. I don’t have any measurables for having a successful season,” she said. “I just want to enjoy the season and set an example for the younger players.”
Though not motivated by personal achievements, DeVaughn certainly is driven to succeed. She’s the youngest of three children by five years. When her older brother and sister were playing soccer around the house, Charlotte developed the competitiveness needed to keep up with her older siblings.
“I grew up watching them and always wanting to get into the action,” she recalled. “I didn’t like naps. I wanted to do whatever they did.”
Skilled enough to play any position on the field, DeVaughn prefers defense. She takes satisfaction in being able to shut down opponents.
“That comes from being the third child,’’ she said. “Always having to fight to keep up. A lot of those soccer games in the front yard ended in tears.”
It didn’t take long for DeVaughn’s skills to get noticed when she made the Washburn varsity as a freshman. She hadn’t quite reached her current size, but her ability to track the ball and shut down opposing attackers stood out even then.
“It was just in conversation with two of our best players, Maya Rajacich and Morgan Cottew, and they said she was the best player on the team,” Ndely said. “She was just a freshman and she probably didn’t weigh 100 pounds.”
As she’s gotten older, DeVaughn’s skills have improved. Her impeccable timing and athletic grace allow her to win nearly every race to the ball. Those two attributes also make her a force in the air, where her ability to elevate makes her a valuable weapon on corner kicks.
“Scoring a header goal or getting a big clearance with your head, or making a big tackle and collecting the ball, those are two of the best feelings out there,” DeVaughn said.
Washburn co-coach Cheryl Peterson makes a point of telling her young players, looking to improve, to watch DeVaughn for a textbook example of how to play the game properly.
“If you’re a defender, watch Charlotte play,” Peterson said. “She’s fast, but you wouldn’t know how fast she is because she’s so smart. She varies her speed on what’s needed. Her decisionmaking, her composure and the things she does on the field are just amazing. It’s just cool to watch her.”
With just a few games left in her high school career, DeVaughn has made it a point of leaving a legacy at Washburn before she heads off to Brown University next year.
“When I was a freshman, I saw all the hard work the older players put in. Being a senior, I want to be an inspiration to the younger players,” DeVaughn said. “I want to leave a mark on Washburn soccer.”
Senior midfielder Lydia Ruppert has played with DeVaughn on every soccer team, high school or club, since the two of them were in elementary school. Ruppert is a pretty fair offensive player in her own right, having secured a scholarship to play for the Gophers next year, but admits that she still looks up to her longtime teammate.
“She’s a good person all around,” Ruppert said. “She’s modest and well-rounded. Everyone strives to be like Charlotte, including me.”
Jim Paulsen • 612-673-7737