Where EAST meets the Northwest
PROUD TO BE A PILOT. Allison Wetherington (left, #23), a senior at the
University of Portland, is a center midfielder on the women’s soccer team.
Kicking a soccer ball around has been part of her life for 17 years. During the
last four years, she has represented the Portland Pilots on the pitch. (AR
SENIOR YEAR. Allison Wetherington a senior midfielder at the University of
Portland (UP), dribbles the ball at a soccer match held on the UP campus.
Wetherington will earn her degree in general studies with a specialization in
psychology and sociology in the spring. (AR Photo/Jody Lim)
From The Asian Reporter, V26, #20 (October 17, 2016), pages 11 & 13.
Allison Wetherington: A story of soccer, gyoza, and
By Ryan Nakano
The Asian Reporter
Allison Wetherington’s greatest fear is the ocean. She is scared of the
unknown, scared of what might be lurking underneath the surface. But the thing
about Wetherington is that she loves dolphins, according to her best friend and
former teammate, Noelle La Prevotte.
Wetherington, a senior at the University of Portland (UP), is a center
midfielder on the women’s soccer team. After graduation, she will step out into
the unknown, the metaphorical "ocean" laid out for the post-college student, and
she will be certain of only one thing: that she will continue to play soccer the
way she will continue to love the torpedo-shaped cetacean.
"She is very reserved, but she is such a passionate person," La Prevotte
said. "I mean, she has played soccer almost all of her life and the passion she
has for the game can also be seen in her loyalty and selflessness in her
La Prevotte and Wetherington played together for the Pilots for three years,
but it wasn’t until last summer, La Prevotte’s senior year, that they became
good friends. Since then, both players have visited each other’s families and
homes on two separate occasions, Wetherington visiting the La Prevottes in
California and La Prevotte flying to Georgia, the southern state in which
21-year-old Allison grew up playing soccer.
"It started when I was three years old, kicking a ball around at my brother’s
games," Wetherington said. "By four, my parents signed me up and I’ve been in
love with the sport ever since."
Not only has she been in love with soccer, she has excelled at it.
Before signing with the Pilots, Wetherington played international matches for
several different teams in England, Sweden, and Spain. During her first year in
Portland, she was named the West Coast Conference (WCC) Freshman of the Year in
2013. With five matches remaining in the regular season, she has played in every
game of her college career (72 games), scoring 13 goals and giving 19 assists.
Prior to her senior year of high school, Wetherington had no intention of
attending the University of Portland. She was continuously told by her club
soccer coach, Brian Moore, that the Pilots wanted her to become part of their
program, but Oregon always seemed too far from home, which made her uncertain.
It took some convincing, but she eventually boarded a plane that would land her
at Portland International Airport on June 1, 2013. After watching one match on
campus and meeting players on the team in person, she was signed within 24
Aside from the distance, her home in Acworth, Georgia couldn’t have been more
different than Portland or the Pacific Northwest in general. Simple Southern
mannerisms like saying "yes ma’am" and "no ma’am" disappeared. Living in the
city as opposed to the countryside was completely foreign, but it didn’t take
long for Wetherington to adapt. In fact, she currently has no plans to leave
Portland, a city she now calls home.
Since heading to college, Wetherington has travelled back home twice a year.
Each trip to visit her family has a routine that starts with a stop at her
grandmother’s house in South Carolina, a gathering that includes homemade gyoza
and California rolls.
"She is one of the sweetest people I know and she just loves to make food for
us," Wetherington said of her 87-year-old grandmother, Shigeko Wetherington. "We
usually drive her to the grocery store after we eat so she can start preparing
A dinner of steak, rice, and sushi.
The sushi is for Wetherington’s father; Allison doesn’t really care for sushi
all that much, but she is happy to be home, happy to hear the stories her
grandmother tells about living in northern Japan while sharing their meal.
"There is a definite communication barrier. Her Japanese accent is very
thick, so most of the time I have to get my dad to help translate for me," she
Wetherington is one-quarter Japanese from her dad’s side of the family. Much
like the communication barrier with her grandmother, there are several cultural
things that she grew up with not fully understanding.
"Both my dad and grandma are Buddhist and they both have Buddhist altars in
their homes," Allison said. "When I was younger, I used to sit next to my dad in
the morning while he chanted in front of it, even though I had no idea what was
This is the general sense of uncertainty she has grown up with, that she
continues to learn about now, when it comes to matters of family and identity,
but she knows her family well enough to understand she has their unconditional
love and support.
Both her parents, Sally and Gary, used to drive Allison two hours away from
their home to soccer practices. She said they also never missed a club game.
Back in 2013, when Allison visited the UP campus and was in the room with her
now-current coach, Garrett Smith, on the verge of committing to play on the
bluff for the Pilots, her mother had no idea beforehand it was something she was
"I didn’t even consult my parents. When I was there, I just looked at Garrett
and told him I wanted to go here," Allison said. "My mom just turned to look at
me and said ‘okay, that’s fine.’"
Wetherington, who will earn her degree in general studies with a
specialization in psychology and sociology in the spring, said she has really
enjoyed her time with the team over the past four years.
Allison Wetherington’s greatest fear is the ocean. She is still unsure of her
own cultural inheritance, she was uncertain of moving too far from her parents,
and now as she continues her senior year at the University of Portland, she is
faced with the unknown that will follow her impending graduation. But the thing
about Wetherington is that she loves soccer and her family and her friendships,
and much like dolphins, these things, at least to Allison, seem to be just as
The Portland Pilots play two more regular-season home matches this month. On
Friday, October 21 at 7:00pm, the team takes on the University of the Pacific
Tigers, and on Sunday, October 23 at 1:00pm, they play the Saint Mary’s College
Gaels. This year’s seniors — Wetherington, Hanna de Haan, Alyssa Edenstrom,
Ellie Boon, and Devlyn Jeter — will be recognized as part of a "Senior Day"
ceremony at the Sunday game. Matches are played at Merlo Field at the Clive
Charles Soccer Complex on the University of Portland campus, located at 5000 N.
Willamette Boulevard. To learn more, or to buy tickets to a match, call (503)
943-7525 or visit <www.portlandpilots.com>.
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