For Emily Heubel, stepping into a polarizing leadership role was something she never expected.
Not one to put up eye-popping numbers, she was surprised when word came that she would be the Hopewell Titans soccer captain.
"I heard about it and I had to do a double take," Heubel said. "For me, it's more about leading by example. I'm not the kind of person who will go up to someone and yell at them. I just want everyone to try their hardest."
Heubel, in her third year on the Titans varsity squad, has been tapped by head coach Robb Bolar to be the senior example for the team this season.
"She's just a team player," Bolar said. "She works hard, plays hard and she just goes out there and gives 115 percent. Last year we had two captains, and they did really well, but this year we really needed some senior leadership, and Emily stood out during preseason. She was at every workout encouraging the girls."
A tireless worker, Heubel ranks at the top of her class academically. She has received a Destination Success award, which recognizes a student who is working to achieve their personal best, from Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain and will head to Wingate University in the fall on a near-full academic scholarship.
Heubel has perfected the art of balancing fun and responsibility. She is also a golfer for the Titans and plays recreational basketball during the winter.
"I really just play them all for fun," Heubel said. "Time management is the key. I plan ahead, know when game days are and know what work I have to get done before I get out there."
In just his second year as Titans head coach, Bolar feels blessed to have someone like Heubel leading his team. He sees an opportunity for her to get the other young ladies prepared for some of the area's toughest teams.
"She's always pushed the girls," said Bolar. "We had only one senior last year, and we really expected to come in this year being a more experienced and ready team. As long as we play organized and together, we'll do a lot of good things."
Three of the Titans' (5-4, 3-2 I-Meck) losses came to teams in the top 10 in North Carolina. With another dangerous, more familiar foe on the horizon, Heubel knows exactly what she wants this season.
"North Meck. I really want to beat them badly this year," she said. "It's always one of our best games, and they are always really good."
The Vikings, who boast one of the more consistent programs in the state, are the focus of Heubel and this year's Titans team as they try to win a conference championship.
"We really want to win and be on top of the conference," Heubel said.