Senior Spotlight: Caroline Lyman

Caroline Lyman Senior Spotlight graphic

During Caroline Lyman’s first collegiate soccer match, the freshman University of Missouri defender found herself lined up against Stanford University forward Sophia Smith. Smith, who was a sophomore, had been a regular on the United States Women’s Youth National Team training circuit and was coming off a solid freshman campaign. It was quite the “welcome to college soccer” moment for Lyman.

That first match proved to Lyman that her years of hard work on the pitch had been worth it – she was officially a Div. I athlete and part of one of the best conferences in the country, the Southeastern Conference (SEC). She appeared in nearly 50 matches for the Mizzou soccer squad during her four-year career.

While Lyman was a dedicated collegiate athlete, she also found plenty of success in the classroom throughout her time at MU. Lyman will graduate in December with three degrees – a bachelor’s degree in economics, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accountancy. She was part of the integrated BSAcc/MAcc program offered through the Trulaske College of Business, which allowed her to finish both accounting degrees in just five years. Lyman also completed the Honors Certificate.

“My Mizzou experience was incredibly rewarding,” Lyman said. “I have been playing soccer since I was 3 years old, so being able to compete at this level, it was fulfilling a lifelong goal. I knew being a student-athlete was going to be difficult, but I’ve grown so much as a student, as a professional and as a person. I’ve learned valuable lessons, and it’s exciting to reflect on and celebrate the hard work that has led me to this point. I’m grateful for the opportunities that Mizzou has given me and for how the university prepared me for the future.”

Lyman grew up in Clarendon Hills, Illinois, located between Chicago and Naperville. From a family of sports enthusiasts, Lyman soon found that she had a knack for soccer. As her skills continued to develop, Lyman eventually envisioned herself playing at a major Div. I university. Although she was much more familiar with Big Ten Conference schools, such as the University of Illinois and Indiana University, Lyman quickly learned about the SEC after Mizzou reached out. She committed to MU during her junior year of high school.

Caroline Lyman posing for a picture with her family.
Caroline Lyman suited up for nearly 50 matches for the Mizzou soccer team during her time as a Tiger. Photo courtesy of Caroline Lyman.

“Recruiting is such an interesting process,” Lyman said. “When I was going to be at a large high school tournament, I would send out numerous emails to college soccer programs who I knew would have staff in attendance. Mizzou was one of the schools that had an interest, so I started to do my research on what all the university had to offer. It seemed like a really good fit, both athletically and academically. Coming to Mizzou also took me out of my comfort zone a bit, and I knew it would afford me an opportunity to grow.

“I quickly found out that there is so much campus pride throughout the community. Everyone I met was so welcoming. I was thrilled to join such a great atmosphere.”

As soccer is a fall sport, Lyman began training with the Tiger squad the summer before her freshman year. The coaching staff encouraged her to take a couple summer courses, too, so that her schedule wasn’t so busy during her first semester.

Lyman originally declared as a biological sciences major, but she switched degree programs before her first semester even began.

“I hadn’t even taken a class yet and decided I wanted to switch into something business related,” Lyman said. “I had always been into math and my brother was a finance major, so I planned on going that route. Once I started looking into business, though, I found the accounting program and was immediately sold. The program is so competitive and challenging, which was exactly what I was looking for.”

Lyman added that being able to jump into coursework a bit early was helpful as she transitioned into a full-time collegiate student-athlete.

“It was great to get those nerves out and get going,” Lyman said. “The academic advisors in Mizzou Athletics were so helpful, and they really emphasized communicating with my professors early and often. Time management is one of the most important pieces of being a student-athlete. You’re on the road quite a bit, so you’re going to miss projects and tests. Developing a strong relationship with my professors and keeping that open line of communication was really key for me.”

Lyman was encouraged to add an economics degree by Eric Parsons, an assistant teaching professor of economics, during her first semester. Lyman said she found success in one of his courses, and he thought an economics degree would be a great addition to her resume.

“I’m really glad that I took his advice and added a second major,” Lyman said. “Both programs focus developing you as a professional. I had awesome professors who sincerely cared about me and encouraged me every step of the way. I also really appreciate how both programs do an amazing job of making sure students can use their degrees in the future; it’s not just about finishing the degree.”

Caroline Lyman speaking to a group of people.
Lyman served on Mizzou’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where she was a spokesperson for the soccer team and collaborated with Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois, Mizzou Athletics faculty and fellow student-athletes. Photo courtesy of Caroline Lyman.

Soccer and her degree-specific coursework kept Lyman plenty busy, but she still found time to finish the Honors Certificate. Lyman said she enjoyed numerous aspects of being in Honors, including the opportunity to be part of classes with only a few students.

“It was so nice to have some smaller classes where I could meet people outside of athletics,” Lyman said. “It’s tougher to make those connections in large lecture halls, plus I was gone so often for soccer. The Honors College was a great choice for me as a student-athlete as it gave me a deeper connection to the university and allowed me to engage more deeply with my peers. I loved every second of it.”

Lyman added that her Honors courses allowed her to expand her worldview and dive into her creative side. She particularly enjoyed a writing-intensive course taught by Aaron Harms, director of the MU Writing Center and an affiliate Honors faculty member. As someone who loves to write, Lyman said that course gave her the chance to expand her writing abilities.

“Honors is such an enriching learning environment overall,” said Lyman, who has spent the past year as a tutor at the Writing Center. “Having my education feel more personalized, especially at such a large university, was really rewarding. My Honors courses have helped see the world in a different way. It’s been an awesome experience.”

As she reflects on her time at MU, Lyman said there are numerous memories that stand out, especially during her time as a Mizzou soccer player. She had the chance to scrimmage against her favorite player and soccer icon, Julie Ertz, a key cog in two women’s World Cup championships. Lyman also served on Mizzou’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where she was a spokesperson for the soccer team and collaborated with Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois, Mizzou Athletics faculty and fellow student-athletes.

“I loved being part of the advisory committee,” Lyman said. “Providing insight and interacting with leadership was really rewarding. It was great to be heard. I also appreciate everything Desiree is doing for Mizzou Athletics. She always made it a priority to listen to our concerns, and she truly cares about each athlete and our development.”

Lyman will head to Chicago after graduation to begin a job with Heitman, a real estate investment management firm, where she will take on a variety of tasks, such as valuing properties, computing rates of return and helping with financial reporting.

“I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience at Mizzou,” Lyman said. “I’m so grateful to be able to say that I was a student-athlete at MU. I loved representing this university and look forward to continuing to do so in the future.”