COLUMBIA — It was 2:20 in the afternoon, which meant MU junior Tasha Dittamore was 5 minutes late to study hall. For the starting goalie on the Tigers soccer team, the numbers on the clock regulate life both on and off the field.
The hallway at the MU athletic training facility leads to two swinging, glass-plated doors that separate athletics from academics. Before stepping past the doors and into study hall, Dittamore must stick her hand into a black scanner box thatdigitally scans it to verify the time she checked in to begin study hall. It's just another normal day for Dittamore.
She woke up at 6:15 a.m as usual, just in time to drive over to the training facility, grab a free PowerBar for breakfast and hurry out to the field by 6:50 a.m. for goalie training at 7. At 8 a.m., the 90-minute soccer practice begins.
From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Dittamore attends classes. She must be back at the training facility by 2:15 for a regulated and closely observed 120 minutes in study hall.
At 5 p.m., the team watches 60 minutes of film from previous games. After that, Dittamore returns to study hall, where she remains until 8 p.m. After the two-hour study session, Dittamore finally heads home for dinner.
Sitting relaxed and cheerful in a study room chair, Dittamore doesn't seem worried about the time. Instead, she recalls the moment she found out big12sports.com had chosen her to be the student-athlete spotlight for the week of Sept. 26.
"I had just got to study hall, and I always check my Webmail first thing," she said. "MU had sent out an email to all the student athletes saying that I was featured on the Web site along with (football players) Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin and all these really great athletes. I was so excited, it's a huge honor."
A Granite City, Ill., native, Dittamore leads the Big 12 Conference with four shutouts, just one away from the school record. Her 37 saves have been a key element in the No. 24 Tigers' 6-3-0 start this season. Dittamore is the only Tiger who has played all 830 minutes in 2008.
As the season continues, Dittamore's statistic sheet keeps growing. In the 894 total minutes Dittamore played in 2007, she logged 21 saves and three shutouts.
But Dittamore says she doesn't pay attention to statistics. She keeps her focus on the clock, hoping that the Tigers can add another win to their record at the end of a 90-minute regulation game.
The MU soccer team's next game begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday night at Walton Stadium, where the Tigers will take on No. 21 Colorado.