Kolander takes on new leadership role for Gophers

The junior forward was named one of two team captains for the 2015 season.

Simone Kolander laughs with other Gopher women's soccer teammates before their game against the New Mexico Labos on Sept. 11, 2015 at Elizabeth Lyles Robbie Stadium.

Melissa Scharf / Daily File Photo

Simone Kolander laughs with other Gopher women’s soccer teammates before their game against the New Mexico Labos on Sept. 11, 2015 at Elizabeth Lyles Robbie Stadium.

Kaitlin Merkel

At the beginning of the Gophers’ 2015 season, players and coaches chose two team captains using a voting system, ranking members of the team based on specific personality traits.
 
Junior midfielder Josee Stiever said it didn’t surprise her that the team chose junior forward Simone Kolander to be one of the co-captains.
 
“I remember when I filled out the sheet [ranking personality traits], I put Simone down for pretty much every single category,” Stiever said. “It had things like leadership abilities, composure [and] approachability. In my eyes … she ranks really high in all those categories.”
 
The team also chose senior defender Haley Helverson as a co-captain, and she agreed Kolander’s personality fit what the group was looking for. 
 
“She’s very encouraging on and off the field,” Helverson said. “[Kolander’s attitude is] more, ‘You can do it,’ not ‘You have to do it.’ ”
 
Kolander takes her role as a captain very seriously, both on and off the pitch. 
 
“As a captain, you’re kind of like the extension of the coach,” Kolander said. “It’s important that I communicate with my teammates, and if I don’t think that things are going well … I have to vocalize that.” 
 
Off the field, Kolander often makes an effort to build team chemistry. During the preseason she’d have teammates over for movie nights.
 
Kolander said the strong team chemistry she’s helped build off the field assists in communication on the field. 
 
“That’s my favorite part about this team, is that everybody is kind of on the same page,” Kolander said. 
 
The chemistry seems to have clicked for the Gophers, who swept their first two Big Ten games of the season on the road.

Kolander had both game-winning goals for Minnesota on the road trip, and for her efforts she was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Tuesday.

“She came up big time [this past weekend] with two game-winning goals,” Stiever said. “All her hard work is really paying off, and everyone recognizes that.”
 
Away from the field, Stiever, who is also Kolander’s roommate, said her warm personality is easy to notice.
 
“She’s super friendly; she’s nice to everyone that she meets,” Stiever said. “She’s a really hard worker too, off the field, in school. We have a lot of classes together, and she’s always helping me study.”
 
As the No. 18 Gophers head into the second half of the season nationally ranked, Kolander said she is honored to lead her teammates. 
 
“It’s such an honor because there’s so many great players that came from this program, and we have such great coaches and such great teammates,” Kolander said. “They make being a captain easy because these are all of my best friends.”