The senior midfielder and tri-captain of the Cougars’ girls soccer team (13-1-1) played a key factor in its Tri-County League championship, as a scorer (13 goals, third on the team), distributor (a team-leading 15 assists) and defender (Cougars only gave up 14 goals in 15 games, while posting eight shutouts). Barrack head coach Keith Bradburd said, “Her speed has allowed Talia to track down opposing players, which really helped our defense. She is admired by her coaches as well as her teammates for her ability to display an incredible amount of sportsmanship and respect, while displaying a high level of competitiveness.” A three-sport athlete, Koltun-Fromm also plays basketball and lacrosse for the Cougars.
Q: What was your first reaction at the end of the Tri-County League championship game and Barrack Hebrew was the winner?
A: At the end of the game, the entire team ran to hug and jump on our goalie. We had finally did it. As a younger player, I watched many seniors win championship games, and I could tell that it is the best feeling in the world. I was right; there is nothing compared to the feeling of knowing how hard you and everyone else on the team has worked to get to this point.
Q: What is your most vivid memory of that game – can you share it with us?
A: This might be an odd memory to share, but one of my favorite parts of the game was when one of my co-captains was lying on the ground injured. Obviously the best part was not that she was hurt, but that it gave me some time to stop and think for a moment. We were winning 4-1, and there were three minutes left in the game. It really hit me then, we had won. My other co-captain and I rushed over to the help our fallen teammate. There was nothing else to say but “Don’t worry, we did it! We did it!” I could see that this realization crossed her mind as well, and those tears of pain turned into tears of happiness. All three of us have been waiting for this moment since eighth grade, and it finally came.
Q: Coach Bradburd mentioned that your speed allowed you to track down opposing players which has helped the defense give up only 14 goals in 15 games, with eight shutouts. What has been the most important thing you’ve learned in playing strong defense?
A: I think that sometimes people don’t realize how truly important defense actually is. They may not get as much recognition because they are not the ones scoring, but they hold the entire team together. Even if you have the best goalie in the world, it won’t matter if you have a terrible defense. I love playing midfield because I have a chance to play both up top and down low. While it is tough running everywhere, the most important lesson I’ve learned from it is to always get back onto defense. While our defense was strong, they can’t stop every ball without help from the midfielders.
Q: How did you try to best exercise your leadership responsibilities as tri-captain?
A: I try to lead by example. I’ve seen captains before who yell at their players because they are upset or angry. I did not like that as a younger player, so as a senior, I never took my frustration out on other players. When someone made a good play, I would try to say things like “good pass” or “great shot.” And if someone messed up, I would say things that are constructive and can help them in the future, not things that lower their confidence. I know that if a leader is annoyed, angry, or upset, it spreads to the entire team, and I did not want that. I also like showing respect to the other team, not just to my own. I play how I am in real life, I’m not the most competitive person in the world. If someone is hurt, I will ask if they are OK; if someone makes a great shot, I will say great shot. While winning is amazing, it isn’t the only reason I play sports.
Q: How did you see your role this season as a scorer and distributor?
A: As I mentioned before, I am not the most competitive player, and as my dad has told multiple times, I’m not the most selfish player either. When I get the ball as a midfielder, I look up and see who is open. I’m not the player who dribbles through 10 players and score every time. I believe that teams win if they play as a team, not individually. Furthermore, when I play with other team members who don’t usually have as much time on the field as I do, I try to feed them the ball as much as possible so they get the playing time they deserve.
Q: What do you think is the strongest part of your game? What part of your game are you working the most on at the present time?
A: I think my strongest quality is my ability to see the field and pass to the open player on offense. I will always be working on my dribbling skills. I need to improve my quick touches so that I can settle the ball and distribute faster.
Q: What number did you wear for Barrack Hebrew – was there a reason you chose that number, does it have any significance to you?
A: My number is 7. Seven has always been my lucky/favorite number. It is the day of my birthday during the month of September, and I try to wear it for every sports team I play on.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: The Barrack Hebrew girls soccer team has a special tradition that we do every year. After our pre-game warm ups, we have what is called a “buttle” (combines butt and huddle). Basically, all the seniors lie in a circle on their stomachs with our heads facing into the circle. Then, all the underclassmen choose a senior to sit on. I love this tradition because it is cute, but it is also a chance for the seniors and the captains to talk about the game without the coaches. It is a time to pump up the girls and get them prepared to play.
Q: What originally sparked your interest in soccer? Who have been your top soccer mentors, and what has been the most important thing each of them taught you?
A: I have been playing soccer for as long as I can remember. My mom loves to mention that when I was 18 months old, I discovered the ball. For two weeks after my discovery, the ball never left my side. My top soccer mentor was 100 percent my dad. We always used to go outside and pass a ball around just for fun. When I started to join different club teams, he was my No. 1 fan. He came with me to almost all of my games because he loved to watch me play. He was never one of those parents who screamed at their children during the game; the only time he talked was to cheer me on. After the game, he would always give me constructive criticism about my playing, but never in a negative way, he truly wanted me to become a better player. The most important thing he taught me was to be a team player.
Q: What do you think you would like to major in at college? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: I am going into college undecided because I want the opportunity to explore and expand my horizons before I hone in on one subject. At the present time though, I am very interested in business and anthropology.
Q: Do you participate in any extracurricular activities at Barrack Hebrew Academy outside of soccer, basketball and lacrosse? What sparked your interest in these activities?
A: I am involved in many clubs around the school, including our school newspapers, both Hebrew and English, our business club, holocaust education club, and a tutoring center we have. I love participating in these clubs because they interest me, and they allow me to be an active part of the school community.
Fun facts – Talia Koltun-Fromm
Favorite book: The Great Gatsby.
Favorite TV show: How I Met your Mother.
Favorite movie: Spy.
Favorite athlete: Lionel Messi.
Favorite team: New England Patriots.
Favorite place to visit: Israel.
Favorite pre-game meal: Pasta.
Favorite color: Blue.
Family members: parents Ken and Naomi, older brother Ariel, younger brother Isaiah.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)
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