Troy heads into the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on the heels of a special season

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014

By Sean Holohan

Mikki Lewis and Kailani Decock mull over the question.

Each looks at the other, smiles growing wide across their faces. It’s clear they’re both thinking the same thing.

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“Is this season special?”

Lewis and Decock are silent for a second, almost urging the other to answer.

Decock breaks the silence, trying to be stoic about Troy soccer’s recent success, she says calmly that the season “absolutely” is special.

But before she can finish her sentence, Lewis speaks up, blurting out an answer that seemed like it had been bottling up in her all day. Like it was the bluntly honest answer that Decock was afraid to say.

“We’re coming home with rings,” Lewis said.

Finally, Decock smiled and agreed.

“Yeah, there’s no question,” she said. “We’re coming home with rings.”

That bold prediction is not so outlandish anymore in the world of Troy University soccer.


Troy soccer is having their best season in program history. After finishing their regular season 14-5, the best mark in school history, the Trojans are now preparing for conference tournament play.

With their wins over UALR and Arkansas State two weeks ago, Troy secured the No. 2 seed in the Sun Belt Conference tournament, which starts Wednesday in Mobile with the Trojans playing No. 7 seed UL-Lafayette.

The reasons to consider this a special season for Troy are endless. The Trojans have smashed a slew of school records this season and finished their season with four straight wins, all of which were shutouts.

For Lewis, the freshman goalkeeper for the Trojans, her first season has been highlighted by nine shutouts, 14 wins — both school records — and three Sunbelt Conference Player of the Week honors.

But records and statistics aside, this season is especially magical for Decock.

Decock, a senior midfielder for the Trojans, didn’t even know if she would be able to play soccer again last season.

In June of 2013, Decock was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes. And though she began treatment quickly after being diagnosed, Decock was forced to miss all of the 2013 soccer season.

But through all of the grueling treatments, while her friends and teammates were out on the field, Decock said she motivated herself by thinking of one day returning to the team again.

“Literally, I just laid on the couch for eight months dreaming about the moments that I could be back at Troy,” Decock said. “I just wanted to do everything and be normal again.”

Throughout the 2013 season, in an effort to help Decock and bring awareness to Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Troy University began #Project19. All year, teams and student-athletes wore purple bracelets and hosted several events to support Decock.

Six months later, Decock announced that she was cancer free, and her journey to return to the soccer team began.

At first, Decock said, she doubted whether the effort to return to the team was worth the reward. But now, with the team heading into the Sun Belt tournament with the hopes of winning a conference title, Decock said all of her hard work was worth it.

“It was definitely worth it,” Decock said. “In the summer I don’t know if I could have said that. I felt like the hardest part was me having to stop myself. I had a lot of people around me to slow down and kind of stop because I was trying to be exactly the same as everyone else. It was really hard, but it really wasn’t because I got to get back.”

Now, with her comeback season behind her, Decock said she never would have thought her senior year would wind up like this.

“The fact that we finished second is just amazing,” Decock said. “We were always the team who would be happy to make it into the conference tournament and we would be expected to lose in the first round.”

Now, Decock is confident the Trojans won’t just make an appearance in the tournament, but they will win it all.

“We’re going to win, there is no question about it,” she said.

And Lewis, who does not lack for confidence, took the statement a step further, bringing home how special this year is for Troy soccer. To her, this is more than just a team.

“We’re a family,” Lewis said.  And we’re going to win, there is no other option.”