Heather Oranje is a fourth-year senior and outside defender on the San Jose State University women’s soccer team. A native of Concord, Calif., who graduated from Berean Christian High School, she has started 39 consecutive games dating back to the beginning of the 2006 campaign. For her career, she has started 40 of 57 games played, providing two goals, both game-winners, and one assist, for five total points from her position on the backline.
The Spartans are preparing to host Idaho this Friday, November 2, at 5:00 p.m., and Boise State on Sunday, November 4, at 3:30 p.m., in a pair of final regular-season games for the 2007 season, needing just a tie to clinch a spot in the 2007 Western Athletic Conference Tournament, to be held in Boise, Idaho, November 8-11. Both games this weekend are set to be played inside Spartan Stadium, with Oranje and seven senior teammates being recognized just prior to kick-off on Sunday afternoon on Senior Day.
Oranje is majoring in biochemistry and expects to graduate next year. She is a two-time Academic All-WAC honoree and a three-time San Jose State University Scholar-Athlete. Additionally, Oranje earned National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas College Scholar All-Far West Region honorable mention in 2006. On the eve of the 2007 Arm & Pat Hanzad Scholar-Athlete Celebration honoring San Jose State’s 2006-07 scholar-athletes, one of the department’s best examples of combined academic and athletic excellence answered 20 Questions for SJSUSpartans.com.
1. What is one word that could be used to describe yourself?
Focused. For example, I’m not going out tonight (Halloween) because I have priorities, as a biochemistry major.
2. Who are some of your favorite sports heroes?
(Former U.S. national soccer team member) Michelle Akers. She would drink coffee at halftime just to keep playing (as she battled chronic fatigue syndrome).
3. Who are some of your favorite musicians, movies and television shows?
I like all kinds of music. I’m not picky. I like Disney movies, all the princess ones, definitely. I like epics a lot, too, like Troy and Gladiator. I watch The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (Disney Channel) ritually, every night. My sister got me into it. I love that show, and American Idol.
4. What is your favorite type of food?
I love Italian food.
5. Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
Actually, I don’t. I don’t believe in superstition.
6. Do you have any favorite classes at San Jose State?
Even though it was not toward my major, I liked human anatomy a lot. It was actually probably my favorite class. I also actually liked, even though it was really difficult, organic chemistry. I like a challenge.
7. What is your favorite thing about soccer?
You get to hit people. At the same time, it takes a lot of self-restraint and self-control to play soccer. You can’t just unleash all the time. I do like that about the sport.
8. How does being an athlete make you a better person?
I think it teaches me how to be able to handle all situations, all aspects of life, time management being the biggest, of course. It teaches you how to deal with relationships, male and female, professional and non-professional.
9. What is one school you wish you could have played against in your career?
10. What has been your favorite place to play during your career?
Hawaii. It was hot and humid, but being with the team, that was probably the best soccer experience I’ve had here. We were only there for three days (last season, winning 4-2 at the University of Hawai’i), but it was so much fun, and the memories will definitely last.
11. Who are the most influential people in your life?
My parents, both of them, and my grandparents. They have never missed a home game in all four years.
12. What would be your dream vacation spot?
That would have to be Disneyland. I go two or three times a year. I went this last summer, and I’ll be there again two months from today, actually. It’s been a family tradition of ours the past couple of years to be at Disneyland over New Year’s. We usually go a day or two before and we stay until the 1st. It’s packed. We have the same group of people go, with my mom and my dad, my boyfriend and I, my sister, my aunt, uncle and cousin.
13. What do you like to do when you are away from soccer?
Does studying count as a hobby? I knit, sometimes. Outside of soccer and school, I don’t have time for anything else.
14. What are your plans for after graduation?
I plan to work for a little while. I would like to do either drug research or forensic science.
15. What would be your dream job?
To be a mom.
16. Is there anything you can attribute your turnaround in playing time to during your career, when you appeared in just four games without a start as a sophomore in 2005, before starting the past 39 games your last two years?
Absolutely. I worked real hard, which also included losing about 15 pounds that winter after my sophomore season. (Not playing as a sophomore) was a turning point for me. It showed me what I was going to have to do, if I wanted to get certain things. Looking back, and at how it has turned out, it showed me the dedication and the focus I was going to have to have, if I want certain things for and in my life. That is the mentality I have had ever since.
17. What has been the highlight of your sports career so far?
Personally, last year, with two minutes to go, we were playing Idaho State (at home on September 8, 2006), I scored the game-winning goal, which is not common for a defender. That was exciting. As a team, I thought that when we beat Boise State last year in the WAC Tournament on penalty kicks, that was really exciting as well.
18. What are your personal goals for the remainder of this 2007 season?
When the season is over, I want to be able to look back on the last few games and few weeks of my career and know that I gave it everything I had. Everything else will just follow.
19. What is your goal for the team for the remainder of this 2007 season?
Win the WAC Tournament, of course.
20. What will Senior Day mean to you this Sunday?
It’s like starting a new chapter. I don’t look at it as something ending. I look at it as something beginning.
This week’s 20 Questions was brought to you by The Grill On The Alley.
Past 2007-08 20 Questions
August 22 - Colleen Burke, Women's Volleyball
September 12 - Nick Cukar, Men's Soccer
September 26 - Amber Silverstone, Women's Tennis
October 17 - Jillene Golez, Women's Swimming
October 24 - Kelly Crow, Volleyball
October 31 - Heather Oranje, Women's Soccer