Wednesday, September 15, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 17

Cougar Comics Online
Sports Opinion

UH/C-USA Volleyball Notebook

UNC Charlotte's Charles Hayward loses battle with leukemia at age 21

Sophomore Michael Olague brings experience to men's cross country

About the Cougar

Get that outta here!

Player Profile: Michelle Denommé

By Nicole Jansen
Daily Cougar Staff 

Exceptional defensive players are a valuable commodity. You don't let goalkeepers like World Cup winner Briana Scurry -- or UH champion Michelle Denommé -- slip through your fingers.

This position requires the player to be skillful on both mental and physical levels. Senior Denommé prides herself on her aggressiveness, timing and patience.

"I like to think I'm patient," she said, laughing. "I think those are the three areas I like to focus on. I don't like to commit too early to the ball, or the girl will go right around me, so I like to have patience."

In Denommé's first season with the Cougars, she showed tremendous skill by posting a 1.36 goals against average and 114 saves. She was named to the All-Conference USA second team and became the first player to win two consecutive Player of the Week awards.

Michelle Denommé

Denommé has always been athletic. She competed in gymnastics until she grew too tall, and a cousin introduced her to soccer at the age of six.

The London, Ontario, native led her high school to three consecutive championship titles. She was awarded Most Sportsmanlike in 1995 and Most Outstanding Female Athlete during her junior and senior years. As if that wasn't enough, Denommé played for the Ontario Provincial Canadian Club and captained the London (Ontario) United Soccer Club in 1995.

After high school, Denommé left Canada for the University of Nebraska, where she had seven shutouts, 54 saves and a 1996 Big 12 Championship win. She took time off at the end of the season due to a lack of fulfillment.

After a year off, the goalkeeper decided to come back for the 1998 season. She was recruited by Syracuse, Central Florida, Central Michigan, Colorado College and Houston. After meeting UH coach Chris Huston, she said the choice was obvious.

"She's a great coach," Denommé said. "Day one of my recruiting trip, I just knew I wanted to play for her. I knew that she had the same view as me. She just loves the sport, and she knows the sport not only because she played it. She knows what she needs to do to improve us every practice.

Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

Michelle Denommé has brought here defensive intensity to the UH women's soccer team.

"She's intense and motivated," Denommé continued. "It's great to play for someone that's a player's coach, that dares to make the player better."

Already an experienced player, Denommé entered the 1998 season on a team with all freshman starters.

"I knew the team would be all freshman," Denommé said. "I was prepared for it. I was not comparing the two teams -- Houston and my previous team, Nebraska. You just can't do that. I just came out there open-minded and ready to play."

The Cougar team began its inaugural season 0-5, with its first win coming against No. 23-ranked Marquette in a 2-1 victory.

Denommé played and started all 19 games last season, totaled five shutouts and allowed only four goals during a nine-game winning streak. The 1999 season already shows promise, with the team's first win coming after just three games.

"I think that's an improvement from last year, and it can get better," she said. "But we can't expect what happened last year -- to go on a nine-game winning streak. We hope to. That's our goal, to keep on winning, but you have to be prepared. We have tougher teams on the schedule."

The Cougars participated in a tournament in College Station this weekend, where they were defeated by both Ohio State (1-0) and Navy (4-0).

Their next game will be at 2 p.m. Sept. 17 against DePaul, where they hope to improve their record to 2-5. Denommé has 31 saves on the season and a .721 save percentage.

Who knows what the future holds for this goalkeeper? She's a communication major and said she would like to continue soccer if possible, or use her degree to get into broadcasting.

"People always ask me if I'm planning on going overseas," she said. "I think if the opportunity is there, I'll try out for a team. I was hoping for the states to have a league here for women. Just the opportunity to try out, to possibly make it, would be nice."

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