After her debut season wearing a Buckeye jersey, Lisa Grubb already has a lot to show. As a freshman, she led the Ohio State women's soccer team in offense, collecting 10 goals and recording five assists for 25 points. Grubb was 2001 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and garnered second team all-conference honors.
"Coming in, I didn't really know how much of an impact I could make," Grubb said. "Preseason went really well and I fit in, then the season started and I just went out there and played soccer."
The rest of the team soon realized how much a positive mark Grubb could make.
"It didn't take us long to realize how unique she was," teammate Lindsay Eckles said. "She's not afraid to be herself. She doesn't care what anybody else thinks and it shows. That quality really helps our team."
Grubb, a native of Portage, Mich., said Ohio State was a perfect fit for her game.
"On my recruiting visit, everything was just right," Grubb said. "The athletic facilities are amazing. Coach (Lori) Walker is great. I have a lot of respect for her. Columbus is an ideal fit for me. The distance is great because it's not too close, it's not too far. I didn't know anyone coming down here, so it was a whole new environment."
Grubb got her start playing the game of soccer as youngster in a recreation league.
"I started playing when I was five or six so I have been playing my whole life. I played basketball for a while, but I always had to drive two hours for practice with my club team. So I just made more time for soccer."
Grubb had experience on the defensive side of the field for her club team, the Michigan Hawks, so moving up top was a switch for her. Grubb and Eckles provide a powerful one-two punch in leading the Buckeye scoring attack at Ohio State. Together, the duo supply balance in the offense and show true chemistry. "We work perfect together because we each have our own strengths and weaknesses," Grubb said. "What I'm not as strong at, she is, and vice-versa."
"(Lisa) and I are not your typical players," Eckles said. "We are so different, and that's why we get along so well. We each have our own individual flares and are both notorious for not being mainstream players. We watch each other during practice and try to mirror each other. She is extremely unpredictable because she has so many unique characteristics to her game. As an opponent, you never know what to expect. She has a different move that she tries everyday in practice. She is always trying new things and is all over the place. I try and hold my spot up top and be a playmaker."
When Grubb joined a club team as a 9 year old, her mentor was Pat Norman. Norman later would coach Grubb for Portage Central High School.
"She plays like soccer is the only thing in the world and she has been that way ever since she was nine," Norman said. "She has a burning desire for the game.
"On the field, she always knew what was going on. She knew what she could get away with by playing sneaky and taking advantage of certain situations. She knew the game and she knew people. Everyone loved to play with her and play against her."
In the sixth grade, Grubb took on the role of manager for the high school soccer team and she was able to practice and learn drills from the high school players for three years before her freshman season at Portage Central High School.
"I was a soccer geek," Grubb said. "I always was at the fields. The high school coach was my club team coach, so I would practice with them and do certain drills. Then during games, I would shag balls."
Norman witnessed Grubb develop as a player from age nine until she turned 18 and was in her senior year for the Mustangs.
"After her freshman season, she didn't think she was fast enough, so she went to work on it," Norman said. "She thought speed was the limiting factor in her game. She went from being the 10th- or 11th-fastest person on the team to being the second. She hated to run, but she knew it would improve her game. Her senior year she was our leading scorer and team MVP. She was the inspiration for our team that year. She is as real of a person as you'll see. She was the talk of every team that we played against."
"It's really impossible to try and summarize her personality," Eckles said. "It's sort of called "Grubbism," the way she does crazy things. She has a lot of sayings that people try and duplicate because they are so off the wall."
An example of "Grubbism" can be described in a moment from Lisa's junior year in high school. After scoring a goal, she decided right then and there she would attempt to do a back flip in celebration of her goal. She ended up sitting out 10 games with a fractured back.
"I'm not flexible and there's no way I could do a perfect back flip, but I thought I would try anyways," Grubb said. "I definitely injured myself. I played the rest of the game and for awhile after that, but then I went to the doctor and I had to get bone scans. I don't even remember the goal."
"We congratulated her for scoring, but then we chewed her out," Norman said. "She was just being enthusiastic."
That game was the first match of the season for the Mustangs. Grubb's goal was important as Portage Central pulled out a 1-0 win. Even in high school, it was obvious how energetic of a player Grubb could be.
The 2001 season brought a handful of highlights for the Buckeyes, including a challenging match against North Carolina. The top-ranked Tar Heels, queen of collegiate women's soccer programs, pulled out a 2-0 win The game was exciting enough to draw more than 3,000 fans, shattering the attendance record at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
"Growing up, all you hear about as a soccer player is UNC because of how well-established their program is," Grubb said. "To be able to compete with them and seeing all the fans the game brought in was very exciting."
Perhaps the highlight of the season, however, came last October when Ohio State knocked off No. 4 Penn State in a 2-1 win on Buckeye turf. The victory is perhaps the biggest win in program history as it snapped the Nittany Lions' 29-match conference unbeaten streak.
Although still unsure of a major, Grubb sees herself coaching soccer after her playing days have come to an end. But for now, she just enjoys playing soccer and improving her game.
Grubb's father, Carl, coached his daughter as a youngster and then set the hobby aside when she moved on. Since her move to Ohio State, Carl has taken over the reins of coaching an under-11 team.
"I just recently discovered how much I like coaching younger kids," Lisa Grubb, who would one day like to become a soccer coach, said. "I've enjoyed working with them at camps and helping my dad. It's fun to see how they develop as soccer players."
"Right now I'm trying to improve as a player. The WUSA (Women's United Soccer Association, a professional women's soccer league) is a big goal of mine down the road. That is where I want to be after college. If I get the opportunity to play on the national team then I will definitely do that. But that's not what I'm focusing on right now. I just want to be a better player."
With the 2002 season approaching, Grubb is motivated to improve her game all the way around and help the squad come together as a team.
"Personally I want to improve my game and score more goals. As a team, this is a huge year for us. We have a good recruiting class coming in and our sophomore class is strong. We have some big goals set for ourselves this season. Winning the Big Ten is our first step. Earning the first bid for Ohio State (women's soccer program) to the NCAA tournament is another huge goal. Another goal that is just as important is team chemistry and how well the freshmen class can mesh with the returning players."
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