BY ANDY ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS— Senior Abbe Rank agreed to continue her soccer career at Defiance College during a signing at Maumee High School on November 14.
The daughter of Tim and Jennifer Rank, big sister to 12-year-old T.J. Rank and three-year member of the Panthers’ varsity team, Abbe first began playing soccer at the age of 3.
“I had grown up with a passion for soccer,” she said.
Rank played for the Perrysburg Youth Soccer Association up through the seventh grade.
A year later, she played on a co-ed team at St. John’s Jesuit while attending St. Ursula Academy.
She moved to Maumee prior to her freshman year and tried out for the Panthers’ girls soccer team.
“I had realized I wanted to continue soccer in college my freshman year at the preseason meeting when (Maumee athletic director) Mr. Szyndler gave the odds of continuing sports at the college level, Rank said. “I then realized that I wanted to defy the odds and ended up being even more determined.”
Rank cracked Maumee’s varsity lineup as a sophomore under coach Holly Hamilton. She scored two goals and assisted on another as the Panthers went 4-10-2 that year and posted a 0-6-1 Northern Lakes League mark.
Rank repeated those offensive numbers under coach Erin Kielmeyer as a junior, but ended up seeing the majority of her time on the defensive side of the ball.
Current Maumee girls soccer coach Josh Fox was Kielmeyer’s assistant that season.
“Last year, Coach Erin and I thought she was one of our better players, we just kind of struggled with finding a position for her,” Fox said. “We weren’t sure what was going to be best for her and where she was going to help us the most. She honestly played just about every position last year except for goalie before we ended up settling on the center back position.
“She admittingly wasn’t too crazy about that position. She wanted to be more of an offensive player, but she never complained about it. She put her own individual wants aside and did what was best for the team.”
The Panthers improved to 7-10 (2-5) and played in the sectional finals.
By the time her senior season began this past fall, Rank had helped to solidify a strong defensive back line four along with fellow seniors Faith DeArmond and Paige Loboschefski and junior Natalie Winkle.
“In the defensive line we had a very strong chemistry,” Rank said. “The four of us knew how to communicate and play well together. Also, playing in the same positions for two years gave us even more chemistry to work well together.”
Fox called Rank a “confident” player.
“She’s pretty fearless and her technical abilities allow her to work the ball from the back,” he said. “She plays cool and under control and that was a big crutch of ours in the back there.”
Fox also pointed to Rank’s leadership as being key to 2018 season in which Maumee went 7-9-2 (2-5) and made it all the way to the district semifinals for the first time in five seasons.
“She is somebody that all the players respected,” Fox said. “She fit in with everybody. The thing I always appreciated about her was that she still found time to have fun, but knew when to turn that off and be serious. She was never too tight, too stressed or too pressured and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the players.”
Rank said that there were definitely benefits in playing for three different head coaches while at Maumee.
“For me, learning from three different coaches was helpful,” she continued. “To start off my high school soccer career, I was shown I had to work in preseason to earn my spot. The same goes for my sophomore year.
“My junior year, when Coach Kielmeyer became the head coach, she really helped me start reaching out to coaches. She also changed my attitude and helped form me into a leader. All the coaching styles helped me learn to work hard and be versatile on the field.”
Another advantage of being a Panther was playing in the incredibly tough NLL.
“Playing in the NLL was tough,” Rank said. “It helped me prepare for the skills I will see in college. All teams that I play next year will have the same skill level – or maybe even better. Playing in a tough league teaches you to find a way to win and push through, even when the score gets tough.”
Rank said that she had looked at a couple of other small colleges, but Defiance was the campus she liked best.
“I went to campus and met Coach (Jenny) Vincent and the team,” she continued. “They were very welcoming and had a family-like atmosphere.”
Defiance College went 2-15 this past season.
“From what I know about the program, they are kind of rebuilding,” Fox said. “They didn’t have a ton of success, so I’m assuming that the coach is just looking for players to come in and contribute. So, I think Abbe has a good chance to see the field.
“Again, with her mindset, I think she’ll do whatever they ask her to do and play wherever they ask her to play. Wherever she plays, she’s going to work, do her best to get better and – at the end of the day – help the team.”
Rank said she did not yet know what position she might be playing at Defiance College.
“My favorite position to play is probably center back or outside mid because center back is defense and it’s fun working with my back four,” she continued. “I also like the competition and being an important part of winning.”
Rank is a member of Maumee’s Leadership Club and currently carries a 3.5 GPA this trimester. She plans on majoring in criminal justice or criminology.
“I want to end up being a police officer and working up to being a detective or crime scene investigator,” she said.
In the meantime, Rank is a member of the Panthers’ varsity basketball team this winter.
She has totaled seven points, five rebounds and a steal for Maumee so far this season.
“After soccer season, I had a lot of friends that played basketball as well, so I decided to continue to play basketball my freshman year,” Rank said. “I think the benefits I have had being a multi-sport athlete is that I had the opportunity to be a leader in not one, but two sports. It also helped with staying in shape for both sports. Being in two high school sports shows you how to be a great team player.”
Rank concluded that her parents had been the biggest influences in her life.
“They have supported me through all of my soccer games and will continue to in college,” she said. “In the tough games, they are always there to greet me after and tell me I played great. They also support my team and cheer for everyone. I can’t thank them enough for helping me get to where I am today.”