Benefield: Sonoma State assistant coach going far to go pro in soccer
The Sonoma State Seawolves women’s soccer team were training on Friday — the last session before Margi Osmundson would be leaving her post as assistant coach.
But per usual, Osmundson, a 2016 SSU grad, was suited up with the Seawolves and taking part in the drills.
As head coach Emiria Salzmann Dunn recalls, the players were scrimmaging and Osmundson was playing for one of the sides. When a deflected shot — taken by the team opposing Osmundson — looked like it was going to trickle across the line and be a goal for the other team, Salzmann Dunn watched as her 25-year-old assistant coach sprinted toward the goal, slid to keep the ball from going in and, in doing so, smacked into the post. There was a worrying thud.
For a split second, Salzmann Dunn was terrified that Osmundson had broken her tibia or something equally gruesome.
“But she got up and was organizing everyone on the team,” Salzmann Dunn recalled.
No broken tibia. No blood. Not even a pause. Osmundson didn’t even take a full breath before she was up directing traffic on the field again.
“That’s not even coaching,” Salzmann Dunn said. “That is just a player that doesn’t like to lose.”
And that’s someone who puts it all on the line every time out — even when she’s scheduled to board a plane the next day to fly halfway around the world for her new gig as a professional soccer player.
Two years after graduating from Sonoma State as a two-time All-West Region pick and an All-American first-teamer her senior year, Osmundson inked a deal to play professionally in Brazil with International in Porto Alegre, in the southern region of the country near the border with Uruguay.
She flew out Saturday night — about 36 hours after slamming into that post.
“This has been something I have wanted since I was four years old,” she said. She remembers saying it to all who would listen: ‘My name is Margi Osmundson and I want to be a professional soccer player.”
I called Osmundson’s mom, Cappi, for confirmation.
“She has been saying she wants to play professional soccer since she was four years old,” Cappi said.
But expressing a wish as a kid barely older than a toddler and making good on it are two very different things.
But Osmundson has chased, and found, success at every point in her soccer career. She led the Casa Grande Gauchos to a North Coast Section title in 2010. She signed with Sonoma State and was a player expected to make an immediate impact.
But she didn’t. And this is the point in her trajectory that is perhaps most interesting.
Osmundson redshirted her freshman year. She let her grades slip and needed to buckle down academically, but it was more than that. Salzmann Dunn, then in her first year as coach at SSU, felt like something was lacking in the way Osmundson was playing and the way she was going about her craft.
“There was a time I had to pull Margi into the office and say, ‘I don’t know if this is the program for you,’” Salzmann Dunn said. “The reason was, she wasn’t fully committed to any part of her life at that time.”