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San Diego High School Athlete of the Week : Employing the Best of Both Sports

Barbara Dotson was crushed when she was cut from the Grossmont High School girls’ soccer team as a freshman two years ago.

She had played since she was 6 and was a fullback on several all-star teams before high school.

But Dotson also had played volleyball and softball before high school. So instead of moping about not playing soccer, she developed into a good player in the other sports. She was a starting middle blocker on the San Diego Section 3-A champion volleyball team and an All-Grossmont League catcher with a .367 batting average last season.

Dotson decided to try soccer again this year after a two-year layoff. Her old position was filled, so she had to learn to play goalie.

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After a rough start, Dotson has become one of the county’s best. She had allowed 5 goals and made 84 saves in her 8 games before Wednesday.

Dotson, The Times’ athlete of the week, used skills learned from her other sports to help Grossmont (10-1) win the Eagle Holiday soccer tournament last week at San Pasqual High.

But Dotson did not decide to play until a few days before the season began. At the urging of a few volleyball teammates who also played soccer, Dotson decided to give goalie a try.

“I figured I had to prove myself,” she said.

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At first, her volleyball and softball skills made it difficult for her to play goalie.

“The first time I was in goal (in practice), they took a shot at me and I blocked it,” Dotson said. “But I did it all wrong. I sprawled like a volleyball player and moved my feet like a catcher. I had my hands in the wrong position. I knew I had a lot to learn.”

Dotson sat on the bench for the first three games. And that clumsiness continued in her first start, against Serra in the Raider tournament at Southwest High. She gave up three goals in a 3-1 loss.

“I felt so terrible,” she said. “I felt like I let my teammates down. I was so frustrated because I just wanted to get better. I started working harder after that.”

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Eventually, Dotson learned to use some of her volleyball and softball skills and forget others.

“I guess (playing) catcher helped me to not be afraid of getting kicked in the face when I go out to stop a player,” she said. “Hey, if I get kicked in the face, it happens.”

Early in an Eagle tournament semifinal game against Poway, Dotson jumped high to stop a sure goal. She tipped the ball straight up in the air with one hand, and it fell right into her arms.

“It was kind of like how a (volleyball) setter dumps the ball over the net,” said Dotson, who stopped 60 shots in five tournament games.

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Her inexperience showed later in that game, however. In overtime, Dotson was called for a penalty when she slid into a Poway player on a breakaway and got more player than ball.

Dotson had never practiced stopping penalty kicks. But the instinct she developed digging volleyballs helped her block the low shot. That gave Grossmont a chance to come back and win, 2-1.

The final game against Bonita Vista went to a shootout, in which five players from each team alternately take penalty shots. The pressure was on Dotson when the last Grossmont player scored. If Dotson stopped the next shot, Grossmont would win. If not, the game would remain tied.

Her instincts paid off again. She guessed correctly and stopped a low shot to her left, giving Grossmont a 2-1 win.

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Barbara Dotson

Grossmont High School

Position: Goalie

Height, Weight, Class: 5-8, 140, Jr.

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Last Week: Stopped a penalty kick in a shootout to give her team a 2-1 win over Bonita Vista in the final of the Eagle Holiday soccer tournament at San Pasqual High. Dotson had 60 saves in five tournament games.


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