Most folks complain that the summer goes by too fast. But when you are a talented soccer player who knows her time to shine is approaching, September can’t get here quick enough.
Such is the case of Steinert senior Brielle Flodmand, whose nickname is Bean but whose contributions are much more than just a hill of beans.
“Coming into this season, I can assure you summer felt like an eternity when the upcoming season is the only thing on my mind,” Flodmand said. “Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the time off from school and the weather. But nothing feels better than being back on the field, training with the best coaching staff out there.”
Not to mention, being in the starting lineup for the first time in her varsity career.
As a freshman, Flodmand showed signs of what was to come, as she won the JV team’s Offensive Player of the Year with 19 goals and seven assists.
“I made my parents proud and that was the main concern,” she said with a laugh.
During her first two varsity seasons, Flodmand waited her turn behind a wealth of talented upperclassmen. It certainly wasn’t wasted time, as she made her presence felt when called on.
“I would be lying if I said it didn’t frustrate me to not play, however whenever I got the chance, I left it all on the field,” she said. “Whether it be 10 minutes or 60 seconds, I had to put out all that I could with the time I was given. I knew that I had to keep my head held high and keep the support on the sidelines for the girls in the game. As much as I wanted to be out there, I knew I would have my chance.”
And she’s making the most of it. As a sophomore, Flodmand had three goals and six assists. Last year she tallied six goals and four assists. As of Oct. 14 this season, the forward had seven goals and seven assists in the Spartans’ 9-3 start.
“She’s a girl that bided her time,” coach Mike Hastings said. “As a sophomore she was on varsity, got a little time here and there. Last year she was a pretty important role player for us coming off the bench being a forward, giving us really solid minutes. She was pushing some people for time. You saw that drive in her that she wanted to get in. This year it’s paying off for her.”
‘We have so many great athletes on this team and all it takes is heart and wanting it more than the other team to come out on top.’
One of the reasons Flodmand was able to contribute during her limited opportunities, is due to the wise old coach himself.
“A famous Hastings quote that I’ve always kept in the back of my mind since I heard it, is ‘If you get put in, make an impact on the field,’” Flodmand said. “I think that has been a huge part of my mental motivation and what allowed me to keep my head up when I would only get a few minutes a game.
“I will say, it was a struggle and it definitely takes a toll on your confidence because you feel like you’re putting your best out there and you still feel that it’s not good enough. But that’s not the right mindset. The key to being able to come off the bench and contribute is all about your mental stability and your ability to play the game when you get the chance. It allowed me to appreciate every second I got on the field and got me to where I am today.”
And where exactly is she?
Well, entering the Mercer County Tournament, Flodmand was the team leader in both goals and assists.
“This is the year for her,” Hastings said. “It’s weird how it happens sometimes. Some girls it’s their freshman year, some years it’s their sophomore year. This year, it’s her year.”
Flodmand set no individual goals this year, focusing mainly on the team. Steinert was walloped by graduation after it’s outstanding 2017 season, in which it won the MCT and reached the Central Jersey Group III semifinals. The Spartans lost 14 seniors, including nine starters.
But good teams are able to survive such hits, and Steinert has returned to its status of one of the Colonial Valley Conference’s top programs.
“A lot of teams underestimate us this year just based on the previous year, when that is not the case,” Flodmand said. “We have so many great athletes on this team and all it takes is heart and wanting it more than the other team to come out on top. The returning seniors this year knew, collectively, we were making this our final, yet best season. Knowing what we were capable of last year is only motivation to be able to live up to the expectations that have been set.”
Flodmand’s expectations for herself have always been high since she can remember. Coming from a soccer-crazed family, her parents signed her up for the Hamilton Rec Micro League at age 5, and she says she can’t thank them enough. She moved to the Hibernians travel program at age 8, and switched to the New Jersey Rush during her sophomore year.
“The move was a bit nervewracking for me because I was very comfortable with one team and moving to the next was something I was not used to,” she said. “However, I’m extremely happy with my decision and have learned and improved so much from being with them. With the Rush we’ve won tournaments and participated in State Cup, but haven’t had the opportunity to show anything for them yet. I owe all of my early soccer career to (the late Hibernians coach) Jay Driver. He taught me how to play disciplined and shaped me to who I am.”
Flodmand has become a versatile offensive player, who plays either withdrawn forward or attacking midfield for the Spartans. Her equal number of goals and assists is a tribute to her ability to score and set up scorers.
“She’s a dangerous player on the field and very unselfish and that just makes us a better team,” Hastings said. “She’s a very creative player, she’s really good on the ball. She gets people involved and that’s what you like to have with your forwards. She doesn’t just put her head down, turn around and dribble. She’s ready to slot somebody in and get an assist instead of put one in the back of the net.”
Flodmand credits that talent to years of playing center-midfield growing up, which she feels gives her a natural ability to see the field and feed the forwards.
“Becoming a striker was very comfortable and an easy transition, and playing as the withdrawn forward allows me to almost play both,” she said. “I pride myself on being able to feed other players when their angle is better than mine or when the run is on. I try to do whatever is best in that moment and make the best decision possible, whether that be for me to take the shot or play it to someone with the best angle on the goal. I feel more natural putting it in the back of the net because I believe that’s what I was born to do and where my ability shines through best.”
Flodmand hopes to play at either The College of New Jersey, Rowan or Stockton, as she looks to major in the field of psychology. She was initially reluctant to attempt college soccer but “I’ve realized that soccer is a huge part of my life that I’m not ready to give up yet.”
Hastings feels she is good enough to play at the next level. If so, Flodmand will take his teachings with her.
“The only expectation I hold for myself is to uphold the three values that Hastings preaches the most – attitude, concentration and effort,” Flodmand said. “I admire his values and everything he has taught me. So with that, I expect myself to do my best in every game and give it all I have, because not only will I let myself down, but the team as well.”
Another thing Flodmand will probably bring to college is the Bean nickname since she hasn’t been able to shed it over the years.
“Bean was originally a family nickname; however it translated to the team once Hastings tried to call me Bri, and let’s just say I wasn’t a huge fan,” Flodmand said. “Growing up, my sister and I kept things interesting with different nicknames and when I was about 12, Bean just seemed to stick.”
Fortunately for Steinert, the girl named Bean stuck it out and waited her turn, which is paying huge dividends this season.