Former rivals join forces as CSU soccer captains

Love your enemies, because one day they might be your teammate. For CSU soccer captains Megan Speed and Jami Vaughn, that was exactly the case.

As aspiring young soccer players in Fort Collins, Vaughn and Speed could never have imagined they would be playing together as Rams. At the time CSU did not yet have a Division I women’s team.

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Both girls grew up playing soccer, and just about every other sport imaginable – but soccer stuck for both of them.

Vaughn went on to be a four-year starter at Rocky Mountain High School, leading the defense at center back.

“She is a great player,” Ron Clark, Vaughn’s high school coach said. “I could put her at any position on the field, and she wouldn’t just hold her own, she’d excel.”

Vaughn led her team to a national runner up finish, earned the captain’s “C” on her uniform, and a second-team all-conference selection to close out her high school career.

Across town, Speed was playing the same position at Vaughn’s rival school, Fort Collins High. Speed made a mark of her own on the Northern Colorado community.

A four-time varsity letter winner, Speed was named captain her junior and senior seasons, earned first-team all-conference honors, led her team to a city championship, and to cap it off  was named the defensive MVP.

“Our high schools were rivals,” Vaughn began.

Speed was quick to add clarity on the relationship between the two.

“But we always loved each other,” Speed said.

At graduation time however, both defensive stars playing for the same team was merely a dream in the wind.

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Speed opted to stay in Colorado, where she accrued the Rookie of the Year award at the University of Northern Colorado, transferring to CSU before finishing her freshman year.

“It was a bummer for us when she left,” UNC coach Tim Barerra said. “We understand, and it was the right decision for her to be close to her family. She is making a big difference for CSU and their transition.”

Speed took a pause to reflect back on her opportunity with the Bears.

“I loved it there,” Speed said. “But if I can play here – that’s great. It all worked out for the best.”

Meanwhile, Vaughn tried her foot as at the University of Kansas. She started in 10 games as a true freshman and helped lead her team to a NCAA tournament appearance before transferring to CSU her sophomore year.

“It’s nice to be back home, close to my family. They’re more excited than anything,” Vaughn said. “Fort Collins is such a huge soccer community, so (now) it’s great that when you’re younger, you can have a team to look up to.”

With Speed and Vaughn lined up on the same side of the ball, it gives the extremely young team of Rams experience to fall back on. Coach Bill Hempen named both girls captains for the inaugural season.

“They share their knowledge from their past teams, which has been really helpful,” junior forward Maggie Sherman said. “Especially with the freshman, they are new to college and new to everything so it’s been great to have them.”

The backfield duo of Vaughn and Speed take on the Grand Canyon Lopes tonight at 5 p.m., for the first at home women’s soccer game in Colorado State history.

“We’re young, so we are all just trying to work together,” Speed said. “They’ll be a lot of adrenaline for the first home game, so I’m hoping we go out their strong, and make it a good game.”

Sports writer Cali Rastrelli can be reached at sports@collegian.com.