For Julia Besagno, there was never any doubt that soccer would be a part of her life – the question was simply where she could combine her love of the game and her strict dedication to academics.
“I don’t really ever remember considering or doubting, it was always that I was going to play in college. It just came naturally – where and what level was the question, but there was never a doubt that that’s what I wanted to do.”
Soccer was not just a personal interest but one of her entire family – her dad coached her until she was 16 and both brothers played the game. Her oldest brother, Jacob, competed for the Redhawks while her middle brother, Nik, became the second youngest player in league history to be drafted No. 1 in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft at age 16. He is now currently completing his degree at Seattle University, where her sister also attended.
A family of Redhawks. Despite the family legacy, she wasn’t always convinced Seattle U would be the place she wanted to spend four years.
“I loved Seattle U but I thought I wanted to do something different. As much as I loved it for my siblings, I actually had kind of crossed it off my list.”
But in a twist of fate she decided to “give it a shot and fell in love with it. I realized it was really just the perfect place for me.”
The smaller atmosphere drew Besagno to Seattle U and she began to realize it wasn’t just a school, it’s a family.
“I think that’s what I love the most. [The coaches] support us in all aspects. It’s not just soccer but soccer, school, family. It’s really helpful here and they’ve created something pretty special.”
Her senior season was one for the record books with a series of firsts – the Redhawks recorded the Western Athletic Conference’s first ever 12-0-0 record and became Seattle U’s first ever women’s program to advance to the NCAA Division I tournament.
“Looking back, I can’t imagine a more perfect way to have gone out and it really was the perfect season. Our last game, as sad as it was, I just remember sitting on that field and being so thankful that I was on the Seattle U side. Even though we had lost, I wouldn’t have traded anything for the world to be on that other side. I’m just really happy, appreciative, and I don’t want to say content, because that sounds so menial, but just filled and excited about how it all ended.”
Besagno was dedicated to her dream of becoming a nurse and she wanted a place where she could both pursue her dream of nursing as well as soccer.
“[Academics] was huge. Seattle U has a great nursing program, but also has an amazing soccer program. I liked the fact that it was small and had more personalized, smaller class sizes. I’ve always felt more supported here and I know that’s part of the Jesuit education and smaller atmosphere.”
Her decision paid off – Besagno recently graduated magna cum laude and became licensed as an RN, earning her first job at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Besagno was named Seattle U’s Eddie O’Brien Female Student-Athlete of the Year in May 2014, showcasing her dedication to both academics and athletics.
“It really meant a lot, I was surprised, and it was something special. I wouldn’t have been here without any of the girls on the team and the coaches. I think there are so many people who deserve it and don’t necessarily get credit for it, but I was really appreciative to accept the award.”
The past four years and her senior season, especially, taught Besagno to “dream big and reach far.”
She adds, “Just look at our last season; who would’ve thought we would ever have been there? Never think something is out of your reach and go after it, even if it’s a long stretch. Don’t settle.”
Most of all, she would tell others embarking on their college experience to “just appreciate every moment because it flies by. It’s as great as you make it and it’s pretty incredible if you don’t take it for granted. Work hard and dedicate yourself to it because it’s something special and it’ll go quick.”