West Forsyth senior Landen Bowman keeps statistics of just about everything she does, though her reluctance to boast about them is the key component of her character.
But there was one particular number she knew off the top of her head.
“1,003,” she said. That’s how many times she can juggle a soccer ball continuously (her personal record, anyways).
“That’s only because my Dad sat there and counted the entire thing,” Bowman added.
Though over the years, part of Bowman’s evolution from a young, talented soccer player to a senior leader with a commitment to the University of Alabama at Birmingham has been her focus on the players around her.
It’s what has made her the distributor of the ball in the Lady Wolverines’ offensive attack this season, as she leads the team with nine assists through eight games.
“It’s all about making your other teammates look good,” Bowman joked.
Her personality: jovial, and confident, but it doesn’t tell the entire story. Bowman’s soccer career has been the product of relentless schedules and conditioning. Not only is she a member of the West soccer program, but she also competes at the club level with the Norcross Soccer Academy.
“During club season I have practice four times a week, Friday is travel day, Saturday and Sunday we have games,” Bowman said. “Then high school comes around and we have games Tuesday and Friday, but every day outside of that is practice.”
No matter the schedule, there are no days off.
“Soccer is one of those sports that if you take any time off you lose it,” Bowman said. “If you’re not working, someone else is and they’re getting better than you.”
Her coach at West, Jason Bayush, described Bowman’s maturation in the two years he’s coached her.
“She’s a tremendous asset. She brings quality to the table, passing, leadership ability,” Bayush said. “She’s embraced her role as a leader and has started to work the team. She’s grown up a lot as a person as well.”
Part of that growing up has been making the sport less about individual accolades and more about team. Bowman wasted no time before bragging about her team’s chances to make the state playoffs – something the Lady Wolverines have not been a part of in the four years Bowman has been with the program. It’s the only goal on her mind.
“This high school season has been really great,” she said. “I plan to make the playoffs this year. I’ve not made the playoffs since getting to West Forsyth, but I think this is the year we’re going to do it.”
Bowman committed to UAB in November of last school year, though she had plenty of suitors: Tennessee, Missouri, Mercer, Western Kentucky and the College of Charleston all gave her recruiting attention.
“I had a lot of schools interested, but when I left (UAB) I really knew,” Bowman said. “Coach (Harold) Warren seemed like he was going to get me where I wanted to go.”
Part of her transition from high school to college will be a fitness test—most Division I soccer teams require incoming players to pass it before becoming an official part of the program. Bowman’s already worked tirelessly in preparation for that test, using “running packets” to maintain her conditioning.
She even tried some more creative ways to compete during the offseason.
“I’ve always been really competitive,” she said. “I even ran some track to get into shape for soccer. I ran cross country too.”
The coaches were wondering what she was doing there. She laughed that off too.