By Steve Newton, thesummitleague.org
One could only imagine what The Summit League record books would look like if Anita Rapp had the opportunity to play four full seasons at Oakland University. In only two seasons in the league, then known as the Mid-Continent Conference, the Norwegian international led the Golden Grizzlies to a pair of regular season championships, a tournament title and Oakland's first-ever bid to the NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament, while racking up an impressive resume of individual awards.
Oakland, which officially joined the Mid-Continent Conference in 1999 after previously competing in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference at the Division II level, went undefeated in its first season of conference play and captured the regular season title. Rapp, who averaged 1.53 points per game in 1999, was named the conference's co-player of the year and took home second team all-region honors.
"Anita really made that season special for us," Oakland head coach Nick O'Shea said. "She was just a great player, who cared about her teammates, the coaching staff and the entire program. Anita was always in it for the team and never in it for the individual accomplishments."
During her collegiate career, Rapp made several appearances for the Norwegian Women's National Team and was a member of the 1999 World Cup team that finished fourth. Her greatest international accomplishment came at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games when Norway won the Gold Medal after defeating the U.S. Women's National Team in overtime, 3-2. That evening in Sydney, Australia, Rapp became the first gold medalist in league history and the first Oakland athlete to receive an Olympic Medal.
"The game had been intense and extremely nerve wracking," Rapp said. "We had been up by one goal until the last few minutes, when the USA got their equalizer. I have a strong memory from the short break before the extra time, when our captain Goril Kringen gave us the most confident look I'd ever seen. She made me believe that we were going to win it.
"When Dagny Mellgren ran through and scored the Golden Goal it was as if everything exploded around me, and I never heard any final whistle blow. I remember sprinting over to Dagny and jumping into a huge pile of ecstatic teammates. Afterwards, standing on the podium with a gold medal around my neck and listening to our national anthem, it was hard to grasp what I was experiencing."
What Coach O'Shea remembers most about Rapp's Gold Medal winning performance was her return to Oakland and how her generosity brought the community together.
"It was a very unique experience for our program and our fans to come out and touch an Olympic Medal," he said. "Anita had such a great personality and wanted to share the medal with everyone after she arrived back on campus. There were a lot of youth soccer organizations and fans from the surrounding area who came out to our games to see Anita's medal."
Rapp redshirted in 2000 after missing a significant portion of the season due to her participation in the Olympic Games. Returning to the Grizzlies in 2001 for her senior campaign, she again guided OU to an undefeated conference record and regular season championship. Rapp also tallied two goals and added an assist in a 4-0 win against IUPUI in the 2001 conference tournament semifinals. A 3-0 victory over Oral Roberts the following afternoon sent Oakland on its first-ever trip to the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Tournament.
Rapp scored 11 goals and had 12 assists in 18 matches her senior season, and earned multiple conference and national honors. She was named first-team All-American, second-team Academic All-American, Great Lakes Region Player of the Year, Mid-Con Co-Player of the Year and Mid-Con Tournament MVP.
Rapp unquestionably left her footprint in The Summit League record books in just two seasons at Oakland. She ranks first in league history for career assists per game (0.69), second in career points per game (1.71), fourth in career assists (24) and fifth in goals per game (0.51). Rapp's 1.89 points per game and 34 points registered during her senior season, put her at second and third, respectively, on the league's single-season record lists.
Following her collegiate playing career, Rapp competed professionally for the New York Power of the Women's United Soccer Association and represented Norway at the 2003 World Cup. She is now working for the Norwegian Football Federation as the International Coordinator for the Women's and Girl's national teams.
Rapp's achievements, both as a collegiate player and on the international scene, helped write the history of women's soccer in The Summit League. As part of the league's 30th anniversary season in 2011-12, Rapp was voted to the Summit League's list of Top 30 Distinguished Contributors and carried the torch as her sport's representative.
Anita Rapp Profile
EDITOR'S NOTE: This feature was originally published in both the 2011 Summit League Women's Soccer Championship program (Nov. 4/6) and the Men's Soccer Championship program (Nov. 11/13).
Be sure to check The Summit League website throughout the 2011-12 season for profiles on each member of the Top 30 Distinguished Contributors list. Additional content will also be added as part of The Summit League's 30th Anniversary Season celebration.
Summit League Top 30 Distinguished Contributors | Summit League 30th Anniversary Home Page