Family supports Bonnick from afar

Saturday, November 15, 2008 | 8:35 p.m. CST; updated 11:31 p.m. CST, Saturday, November 15, 2008
Missouri’s Alysha Bonnick, left, collides with Evansville’s Katelyn Smith in the Tigers' win Friday in the first round of the NCAA women's soccer tournament.

The sound of the final whistle blaring from the 40-inch plasma screen television was barely audible over the constant phone calls and exuberant cheers that were so loud on Friday night, Winston Bonnick theorizes they reached all the way to Missouri.

Only three people were responsible for all the noise emanating from the household of Missouri women’s soccer player Alysha Bonnick outside of Ottawa, Canada after the Tigers’ 2-0 victory over Evansville on Friday in Columbia in the first round of the NCAA tournament: her father Winston Bonnick, her mother Jillian Bonnick, and her 8-year-old little brother Winston Bonnick , Jr.

The weather in Ottawa had spoiled the game conditions for the family, just as the rains at Walton Stadium had done for Tigers fans. But it did not succeed in ruining the atmosphere inside the Bonnicks’ home. Jillian Bonnick said she had expected close to 15 family members to come over to watch Missouri take on Evansville, but poor weather forced the family to use the telephone to stay in contact during the game. It was a familiar routine for the family, which speaks to Alysha Bonnick by phone before and after every game.

Winston Bonnick has coached his daughter since she was 9 years old. The Missouri sophomore forward credits the weekly family outings to soccer games as her inspiration for playing the sport. That is why she finds comfort from calling her father to hear his advice.

“Over the phone we sit and discuss what I think she should try or what her goals are for the next game,” Winston Bonnick said. “I know a lot about her strengths and weakness, and I will give her a moral boost before each game.”

The similar weather conditions in the two distant cities Friday night seems appropriate considering the intense connection between members of the Bonnick family despite the geography involved.

“When she kicks the ball, my foot is kicking the ball, too,” Jillian Bonnick said. “I get so nervous when I watch her play!”

As a sophomore, Alysha Bonnick leads the Tigers’ offense this season with 11 goals and 3 assists. Her key performance in the Tigers’ run to the Big 12 Conference tournament title earned her offensive MVP honors despite not taking a shot in the championship game.

Missouri’s victory on Friday advance the Tigers to a 1 p.m. second-round game against Illinois on Sunday at Walton Stadium. The Fighting Illini defeated Missouri 2-1 in overtime in the Tigers’ season opener on Aug. 23 in Columbia.

The Bonnick family plans to to be back at home after church on Sunday to watch the Tigers play for their chance to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.


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