COLUMBIA — As each starter on the Missouri women's soccer team is announced before home games, her song of choice echoes throughout the stadium. Songs include the latest hip hop, the Harry Potter movies' theme music and R. Kelly's "The World's Greatest."
The MU women's soccer team plays against Northern Iowa at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Walton Stadium.
Senior Bree Thornton's goes like this:
“Yeah, who does this better than we do/When we say we run this, yeah, we mean you/I know you think I’m lying, but I’m going to be true/So I’ll apologize now for what we’re about to do”
Those lyrics aren't from the latest rap song on the radio. It's a recording of Thornton freestyle rapping.
“I love rapping, and I’m always joking around, rapping with teammates, and I decided it would be cool to do it my senior year and surprise everyone,” Thornton said. “We turn in our run-out songs right before, so no one knew (until the first game).”
Thornton knows she doesn’t have a music career ahead of her. She just raps to have fun with the other players on her team. Thornton’s teammate and close friend Crystal Wagner said Thornton’s rapping and jokes are part of her personality.
“We were roommates freshman year, and we got pretty close,” Wagner said. “She’s awesome. We have a lot in common, and she’s hilarious and really fun to be around. She’s definitely got a creative mind, so she makes up (raps) all the time.”
Missouri coach Bryan Blitz said Thornton is about more than just laughs on the field. Blitz said Thornton is a “fierce competitor” and has hurt her knees, broken her nose and had her face split open all while playing soccer.
“No one plays harder, whether it's in practice, fitness or games,” he said. “Bree is very funny, but she’s very focused on the practice and game fields. She’s intense, but once soccer’s done, she’s very compassionate.”
Thornton, a Los Angeles native, had the opportunity to play in her hometown this past weekend at the UCLA Invitational. The Tigers fell to Loyola Marymount 1-0 on Friday and lost to UCLA 5-0 on Sunday, making them 4-4-1. Despite the losses, Thornton enjoyed seeing family and friends and was able to go home to spend time with them Saturday. She also played against some former teammates in both games.
“It was kind of weird because they’ve been my teammates in the past, but I hadn’t played with or seen them since,” Thornton said. “It was definitely different playing each other, but once the game started it was really physical, and I don’t think we thought of each other as anything but normal opponents.”
Sunday’s game against UCLA was especially physical, with 22 fouls and five cards handed out. This weekend, the team will play its last nonconference game Friday against Northern Iowa and will start conference play Sunday against Oklahoma State. Blitz said being aggressive is important when playing difficult teams like those the Tigers have seen in nonconference play.
“That’s how you have to play when you’re playing a top-10 team, and that’s part of playing soccer at a high level,” Blitz said. “(This week in practice) we’ll continue to do what we usually do for Friday’s game. Everyone’s nonconference schedule is to prepare for conference teams. We typically know each others'style better, and there’s always more at stake, but we’re mature enough to know that we can’t take Northern Iowa lightly.”
Thornton agreed that nonconference play has helped the Tigers get ready for the rest of the season.
“I think the good thing this year is there won’t be much of a transition,” she said. “Every game is always tough in conference, and our schedule this year has prepared us for it. We didn’t have too many easy games, and winning is always difficult, and we’ll just have to fight from the beginning minute to the end.”