May 01, 2014University Liggett 12th-grader Caitlin deRuiter spent an entire year researching the factors that would determine the success of the fledgling National Women's Soccer League.
This week, her expertise and in-depth understanding of the league was showcased in an article that ran in both the print and online editions of The Seattle Times.
She researched the topic for her Academic Research Project – a year-long independent project that is the cornerstone of Liggett's Curriculum for Understanding.
In a connected series of courses, students begin learning in ninth grade the skills needed for the project, which is completed throughout their 12th-grade year. The project culminates with a public presentation in which students share their research and findings.
For her project, deRuiter studied the NWSL, two previous failed women's soccer leagues, other such leagues around the world, and had the opportunity to interview Val Ackerman, founder of the WNBA and current commissioner of the Big East Conference.
Her article focused on the lessons the NWSL could learn as it endeavors to achieve long-term sustainability.
"I decided to research this topic because I love soccer and have been playing soccer since I was 2 years old," deRuiter said. "Soccer has always interested me and the ARP gave me a chance to really dive in and learn more about it."
Bart Bronk, associate dean of faculty at Liggett, said deRuiter's article demonstrates how the public engagement portion of the project can be something other than the ubiquitous PowerPoint presentation.
In deRuiter's case, her public engagement reached more than 330,000 print subscribers and countless others around the world via the newspaper's website and social media reach.
"Caitlin was very passionate about her topic and was willing to take risks in seeking publication," Bronk says. "There was no guarantee that The Seattle Times – or any of the twenty-some papers to which she reached out, would run her story – and in such great detail, at that. But after reading it, the sports editor responded right away and was extremely complimentary."
deRuiter plans to attend Aurora University in Illinois and major in sports marketing and management – and, of course, play soccer on the university's women's team.
To read the article, visit blogs.seattletimes.com/take2/2014/04/11/seattle-reign-fc-5-lessons-to-save-u-s-womens-pro-soccer.