What my dad did for us was he never forced us to play soccer. He allowed us to try it out, almost, and we all ended up loving it. —Elisabeth Phillips
SANDY — Elisabeth Phillips has always been on the move.
So much so, in fact, that before she can even remember, those around her began calling her "Busy."
Now, some 18 years and a spelling change later, the nickname and the meaning behind it have stuck.
"She is definitely a 'Bizzy,'" said Alta girls soccer coach Lee Mitchell. "She is always going, going, going — kind of like the Energizer Bunny."
Her movement and skills on the field as well as her leadership abilities within the team have been crucial to Alta's soccer team during each of the past four seasons. And her dynamic performance this past fall has led to her selection as the Deseret News Ms. Soccer for the 2013 season.
Phillips' soccer foundation came from her family. Her dad, Greg, played collegiately at BYU, and her brothers Greg and Stephen both played at Whitman College in Washington. Her brother Andy played soccer before moving on to the U.S. ski team and then becoming the Utah football placekicker, and her sister Cami earned All-State soccer accolades at Waterford.
"What my dad did for us was he never forced us to play soccer," Phillips said. "He allowed us to try it out, almost, and we all ended up loving it. It was never, 'You have to play. Go practice.' It was a fun thing. It was always something fun for us to do together."
As she grew, Phillips' goal became to follow in her siblings' paths.
"As the youngest, I got dragged around to all four of their games. It was always soccer, soccer, soccer," she said. "As I saw my brothers and my sister get really good, I thought, 'Oh my goodness, I want to be that good.'"
With time and practice — which she does daily, whether it is organized or not — Phillips indeed became that good. And she began to blaze her own trail, carrying that same "see it, dream it, achieve it" approach to all of her goals. After being selected as the Utah Gatorade Player of the Year and named a high school All-American her junior year, Phillips focused her efforts on becoming a repeat selection.
"Last year, I didn't know I could receive those. It was like, 'Whoa, where did this come from?'" she said. "Once I realized it was out there, I set my foot down and wanted to go out and get it again."
And she did.
In December, Phillips will participate in the first-annual High School All-American game, hosted by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in Cary, N.C. She is one of just 40 players from across the country who have been invited.
"The honor is really well-deserved," said Mitchell. "She has been the catalyst for our team. "
Phillips was a key component in the Hawks' 5A state championship team her sophomore year, and she set her sights on Ms. Soccer when teammate and friend Michelle Murphy was given the title that same year.
"When Michelle got it, I made that a goal," Phillips said. "Ms. Soccer has been a goal in the back of my head. I was shocked when it happened, and I was so excited."
In her senior season, Phillips led the Hawks to a Region 3 championship and quarterfinal finish in the 5A state tournament. She scored 23 goals in 2013 for a career total of 58 goals; she is the Alta all-time career assists leader with 60; and she earned a place on the UHSAA Deseret News Academic All-State Team with a 4.0 grade point average.
Phillips' soccer career will next take her to BYU, where she will reunite with many former teammates — an aspect of her school choice she is looking especially forward to.
"My favorite parts of soccer are the girls, the friendships — and winning," she said. "It's the girls that make it so much fun. And when you're having fun, you're playing well, and then you'll probably win too."
On top of the friendships, Phillips also holds the vast variety of experiences soccer has provided in high esteem.
"It's such great experience, preparing for college and just being able to adjust and be ready for soccer," she said. "And not only be ready for soccer but eventually with a career. I think soccer has provided everything from time management to discipline to being able to work with other people. It's just set the path for anything to come in my future."
Phillips' academic goals include earning a degree that enables her to work in health and wellness, and then following her mom, Cindy, who is a teacher and working toward her doctorate, to graduate school.
"I'm really excited to see what is in my future," Bizzy said. "Soccer only lasts so long, so you have to have something to build on after."
But first, she adds, "I want to win an NCAA title down there (at BYU)."
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.