NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While most students shrink at the thought, Megan Michela has always had a fascination with math. For her there's something soothing about manipulating and arranging numbers, using formulas and equations like keys to unlock an answer.
It's not unlike the way she approaches life and athletics as a member of the Belmont women's soccer team.
"I just find a little joy in problem solving," said Michela, a senior midfielder from Carol Stream, Illinois. "Whatever comes your way, there's lots of different ways to tackle it."
Michela, who will graduate with degrees in both mathematics and secondary education with aspirations of becoming a high school math teacher, has been a critical contributor for the Bruins midfield the past four years. She's appeared in all 68 games Belmont has played since her freshman year, working to decode opposing defenses while disarming the offensive sides.
But long before becoming a stalwart in the center for the Bruins, Michela was searching for a solution to another major query: Where would she continue her soccer career?. Belmont first appeared on the Chicago-area native's radar during a club soccer tournament in Florida her sophomore year of high school. That led to a camp workout on campus in Nashville, where she met future classmates Jessi Boozer and Sarah Bossung and fell in love with the school.
Her college decision was clear that day.
"I couldn't see myself anywhere else besides Belmont, and I didn't even know the school existed before my sophomore year of high school," Michela said. "It fell right in front of me. How could I pass up this opportunity?"
The Bruins are sure glad she didn't. She drew starting duties in just her second collegiate game and scored a goal in conference play that year. Later Michela enjoyed a breakout junior season that featured four goals, including three game winners.
That tied her for third in program history for game-winning goals in a single season. She's added a fourth already during her senior campaign.
That senior season is winding down now – the Bruins already recognized and celebrated their fourth-year players during senior day last week – and only three guaranteed games remain on the schedule.
Among the final tests left facing Michela and the Bruins are this weekend's two bouts, Friday at home vs. UT Martin and Sunday at Murray State. Finding the right answers there would help secure Belmont a third consecutive Ohio Valley Conference Tournament appearance for the first time in program history.
"It's shocking; it's becoming real," Michela said of her limited days remaining in a Bruin uniform. "We're trying not to just go through the motions but enjoy every moment of it."