Rewind: 1996 Players of the Year
Catch up with Mosley, Renola, Kurulak and Johnson
The reality is that most student-athletes do not go on to play professionally, so you often wonder whatever happened to the player who scored the winning goal in the national championship, or blocked the shot that would have sealed the game in the other team's favor.
As one in a series of features about former NCAA student-athletes who went pro in something other than sports, the Division I, II and III women’s soccer national players of the year from 1996 talk about what they learned from the college experience.
Division I – Cindy (Daws) Mosley – Notre Dame
Then: Daws was a midfielder on Notre Dame’s NCAA championship team in 1995 and runner-up squad in 1996, when she was named the Missouri Athletic Club’s Player of the Year. She was a two-time All-Big East and two-time Academic All-Big East selection and three-time Academic All-American.
Now: Mosley is a stay-at-home mom to her four kids in Mt. Prospect, Ill. After playing professionally in Japan for a year, she worked for nine years in marketing in soccer and volleyball for Wilson Sporting Goods. She is married to former Notre Dame football player Emmett Mosley.
In her words: “I think being able to juggle all of the things you need to juggle within college, it helps you with that skill set in real life. Your school work, your team responsibilities and social aspects – it’s multitasking and being able to put them in order of what’s most important. Now, you have 10 different people asking you to do something, and everyone things theirs is most important. You have to decide what’s important. From college to life, that’s probably the No. 1 thing.
“Your competitiveness, your drive, your hard work – whether you’re succeeding at your job or your social life, I think all those things you learn in sports help you in those areas.”
Division I – Jennifer Renola – Notre Dame
Then: Renola was in goal for Notre Dame’s NCAA title in 1995 and runner-up finish in 1996, when she was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Player of the Year. She was an All-Big East Conference selection, a two-time All-American and a two-time Academic All-Big East pick. She finished her career as the Irish’s all-time leader in shutouts and goals-against average. Renola earned NCAA Today's Top VIII recognition and NCAA postgraduate scholarship.
Now: After working for adidas and as an assistant coach at the University of Texas, Renola has worked for Nike the past five years. A Portland, Ore., resident, Renola started in marketing and sales and is now in a sales management role for Nike.
In her words: “Ultimately, it’s about being part of a team and kind of understanding that the outcome as a whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. That is comparable to a work environment. The model for business is comparable to a sports team model. How do you get people motivated and get people feeling good about what they’re doing.
“With sports in college, it’s all about juggling different things. You just get accustomed to that at an early age. You receive constructive criticism, and that’s similar to a work environment. Every year, you get a review about what you did well and what you didn’t do well, and [playing NCAA sports] prepared me for that kind of feedback.”
Division II – Deshaunne (Running) Kurulak – Denver
Then: Running, the 1996 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Player of the Year, was a four-time All-Colorado Athletic Conference player and a two-time All-American. The defender was named Denver’s Female Athlete of the Year in 1996-97 and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2008.
Now: Kurulak is entering her second year as a first-grade teacher at St. Vincent DePaul School in Denver. She previously taught second grade in Troy, N.Y., when her husband Shawn – a former DU hockey player – was coaching hockey in the area. Deshaunne has a 14-year-old stepson and a 3-year-old daughter.
In her words: “The whole team concept kind of stays with me – just commitment and dedication to something I’m working on. We had some wins, and we had some losses. Sometimes, things are going well in my job, and sometimes they’re not. It’s just a matter of picking up the pieces and moving forward when things are good and bad.
“On a soccer team, everybody has different personalities and is good at something, and it’s a matter of putting those together to achieve a common goal.”
Division III – Ele Johnson – UC-San Diego
Then: Johnson led UCSD to Division III national championships in 1995 and 1996 and finished her career with 53 goals and 28 assists. She was named NCAA All-Tournament four years, including the tourney’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player in 1995, All-West Region three years, All-American and Academic All-American one year and was UCSD’s Athlete of the Year two years. Johnson was the 1996 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Player of the Year.
Now: A Hanalei, Hawaii, resident, Johnson became a mother for the first time in July, and is currently talking care of her daughter and working for California-based Blue Sky Professional Services Group. Johnson started her own candle and card company, Ele Candles, two years ago. She previously worked as an intellectual property lawyer in New York and a family law attorney in Hawaii. She is one of the top four paddlers in one-man outrigger canoe on the island of Kauai.
In her words: “[Playing NCAA sports] teaches you the drive to succeed and the ability to focus, to learn how to work in a team to be responsible. I was a pre-med major, so having a degree like that taught me about keeping all of the balls in the air without letting any of them drop.”