It has been a rough year for women’s soccer’s Erica Lewis.
After an incident outside of Raymond James Stadium on Oct. 16, 2004, prior to the USF football game against Army, that left her in police custody on a charge of resisting arrest with violence, the Bulls starting midfielder was held out of the final five games of the Bulls’ regular season. It was speculated that Lewis might not return to the team and not many knew when or if she would come back to school.
But Lewis is back.
“She took care of everything she needed to take care of,” coach Logan Fleck said. “(It’s) between her and the athletic department.”
Though he kept his comments about Lewis short, Fleck is determined to put the past where it belongs.
“That was last year. Last year, I had a different hairstyle and I was 10 pounds lighter. It happened, but this is a new year,” Fleck said. “In my opinion, she is down here and ready to play.”
Lewis, a transfer from FSU, said she is ready to play and that she has turned a corner in her life. According to Lewis, the charges have been expunged from her record, and though she still has disdain for the police, she insists the incident has made her a stronger person.
“There’s a lot of added fire to my cause,” Lewis said. “It’s really driven me.”
That’s good news for USF and bad news for its opponents.
The last thing opposing teams want Lewis to have is more fire. Lewis is one of the most tenacious players on the women’s soccer team, and she lists her leadership and attitude as her biggest strengths.
Even though Lewis saw action in only 11 of the Bulls’ 16 games, she still ended up second on the team in goals (3) and tied for first on the team with two assists.
Fleck is going to need a big year out of his starting midfielder, not to mention all of his players, if they hope to compete in the Big East this year. And with Lewis being a big part of the USF offense, a lot of the Bulls’ success will depend on how she handles herself this season.
The women’s soccer team has a lot of questions to answer for this upcoming year, but one of the biggest questions will be how much Lewis has learned from her experience.
If you listen to Lewis, the answer is a lot.
“(I’m) more disciplined, (I’m) not taking things for granted,” Lewis said. “It has made me a more serious person, which I’m not sure is good or bad.”