ROCK SPRINGS — In the wake of a global pandemic, such as the one we are all experiencing today, it’s only natural for people to wish for what they don’t have. It’s also a time for people to reflect and think hard about what they do have and what they are thankful for.
Going back, it’s been tragic to hear about all of these senior athletes (in both college and high school) across the globe who woke one day and were told they might have played their final season for their respected schools.
For Rock Springs High School soccer standout Alyssa Bedard, she was one of those athletes.
Bedard began playing soccer at the age of 3 and has since developed into one of the top high school players in the state, including one of the best to ever put on a Tigers uniform.
Last season, Bedard helped lead her team to its best season in program history after losing only one game all year.
The one game that didn’t happen to go their way came in the state semifinals, where Thunder Basin, the current 4A state champions, edged Rock Springs 3-2 in a shootout.
During this intense battle, Rock Springs was forced to come back from behind twice in hopes of playing for a state title.
Despite coming up just short, the biggest takeaway after watching this game was that the Tigers never once gave up.
Even more importantly, the team never stopped believing — a trait they showed time after time.
Less than 24 hours later, RSHS defeated conference foe, Kelly Walsh to earn third place.
As one of the leaders and team captains, Bedard wrapped up her junior year leading the team in both goals scored (34) and assists (16).
This was the second time in her three-year career with the Tigers that Bedard had either led the state in scoring or tied for the lead.
To say Rock Springs had an incredible year in 2019 would be an understatement.
RSHS not only finished its season with a perfect conference record of 12-0 but also with an overall record of 20-1.
In the process, the Tigers outscored its opponents 102-6.
Three of those six goals against were the ones scored by Thunder Basin in the state semifinal.
“I still feel sick about that day,” Bedard said when asked about the loss.
“We worked so hard all year ... being able to get past the first round at state was huge. We wanted to keep making history and after losing the way we did, coming that close in a shootout ... that was tough for all of us. I don’t think that feeling is ever going to go away. If anything, that loss only motivated us to come back even stronger this season.”
Despite suffering one of the toughest losses of her young career, a few weeks later, Bedard was awarded her third-straight first-team all-state accolade and was later nominated for Gatorade Player of the Year for the second time in three years.
By the time the awards started to come in, Bedard’s hard work and dedication to the sport continued to pay off.
On Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, her long-time dream of becoming a Cowgirl came true after she signed her national letter of intent to play soccer at the University of Wyoming.
“I still can’t get over the excitement from that day,” Bedard said. “Growing up, my family has always cheered for UW and for so long, that’s all I’ve ever wanted. It’s a huge honor that I get a chance to represent my home state.”
Before committing to her dream school, Bedard had a hand full of other universities reach out to her, but by this time her decision was already made up.
Other than being a long-time fan, having most of her family members graduate while wearing the alluring Brown and Gold also played a big part in Bedard’s decision.
“I too wanted to be a part of that tradition,” she said.
Even with all of the uncertainties that come along with a global pandemic such as COVID-19, Bedard’s attitude remains strong.
“Just the other day I sent out a text message to the entire team telling them to stay positive,” she said. “I think it’s crucial we all stick together in times like this.
“Knowing that I could have possibly played my last high school soccer game is hard to fathom. Until a final decision does come down, I’m going to continue training as much as I can, so when I do take the field next, whenever that may be ... I’ll be ready.”
In the meantime, to help stay sharp, Bedard and a few of her close friends and teammates continue to go the junior high field and train together while maintaining a safe social distance.
AN IMPRESSIVE RESUME
To help mold her into the player she is today, the soon-to-be Cowgirl has accomplished many feats on the field.
Outside of leading RSHS to three-straight state tournaments on top of three of the teams four-straight conference titles, Bedard is also responsible for helping put Wyoming soccer on the map.
This past summer, Bedard along with two of her current teammates (Olivia Politi and Rylee Berry) made history while playing for the U17 High Plains Select — an elite group of athletes made up of the top high school players throughout the state.
This “super team” became the first from Wyoming to win regionals and qualify for the U.S. National Cup in Commerce City, Colorado, where it placed third.
“That entire experience was amazing,” Bedard said. “Having the chance to come together and compete against the best teams in the nation was something I will never forget.
“It’s crazy to think how well we did after having only a few short practices under our belt. Most of the other teams there had been playing together for years.”
After opening the tournament with a commanding 5-1 win over a team from Texas, High Plains Select finished the tournament with an impressive record of 2-1-1.
The tie came against a team from Massachusetts that later went on to win nationals for the second time in two years.
“That was insane,” Bedard said. “Especially after being up on them by two goals going into halftime. If not for a few mistakes in the second half, we could have beaten those guys. I still feel like we taught everyone there not to overlook the state of Wyoming. People now realize there really is a lot of talent here.”
Other teams Bedard has competed for over the years include the Rock Springs Avengers, Wyoming 307 and the Gillette Edge.
WHAT LIES AHEAD
Moving forward, if there is no high school season to be played this spring, Bedard’s next goal after graduation is to get to Laramie and begin working out with her new team.
“Once I get there, my plan is to do my part and contribute in whatever way I can,” she said.
“I want to thank my parents (Mark and Candace), my sister (Lexi) and the rest of my family. Without them, I would not be where I am today.
“I would also like to thank all of my coaches, in both track and soccer, as well as all of my teammates and teachers. Even the community ... the support from everyone has been amazing.”
While attending UW, Bedard plans to study kinesiology.