After sitting out much of her freshman season with an eye injury, Abi Cottam ’13 learned to see very clearly. Not only did Cottam get the chance to closely observe her teammates from Rider’s women’s soccer team in action, but she was also able to keep a sharp focus on her responsibilities in the classroom, too.
“Sitting out gave me a chance to see how I could help the team,” said Cottam, who missed August and September of 2009 with an eye injury sustained on a head ball in the team’s preseason workouts. “It helped me see how I could make the team better.”
Two years later, not only did she guide the Broncs to their best record in seven seasons by leading the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) in goals, assists and points, but Cottam was also named a CoSIDA Capital One First-Team Academic All-America.
Cottam, from Leominster, England, owns a 4.0 grade point average as a Psychology major. She becomes the first Rider student-athlete to earn CoSIDA Academic All-America honors since baseball’s Jason Koehler ’97 in 1995.
“What a great honor,” said Rider head soccer coach Drayson Hounsome. “Abi is an outstanding student-athlete, so it’s fantastic for her, our soccer program and Rider Athletics for her to be honored as an Academic All-American. Her success on and off the field sets a high standard for all our players to strive toward.”
Once she returned from her freshman-year eye injury, Cottam wasted little time getting up to speed. She played in the final eight games of the 2009 season, and by the end of the year, shared the team lead in assists.
“It was very frustrating, sitting out last year, and having to watch,” Cottam said. “But watching did help. I wasn’t shocked at the speed and how physical the college game is (as many freshmen are) because I had seen it. Once I was fit, I was ready for it.”
Since then, she has become one of the elite players in the MAAC, and nationally, as well. Cottam ranks sixth in the nation in points per game, eighth in the nation in assists per game and 15th in goals per game this season, which saw her named first-team All-MAAC.
In 45 career games, Cottam has compiled 22 goals and 19 assists for 63 points. Her point total is fourth-most ever at Rider, as is her total of goals, while her assists total is just one shy of the program record.
In addition to her prestigious inclusion on the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America team, Cottam was also named to the MAAC All-Academic team. Prior to enrolling at Rider, Cottam played on the English Schools National Championship teams in 2003, 2004 and 2007 as a member of the Aston Villa Ladies.