Women's College Soccer

'A guardian angel by her side': QU's Greubel holds father's spirit close to her heart

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 8, 2017 1:55 am Updated: Nov. 8, 2017 2:23 am

QUINCY

Sixty yards.

How often has Bailey Greubel covered that amount of space in a relative blink of an eye in her collegiate soccer career? Countless probably.

This time, it was one of the longest walks she's had to make.

Greubel stepped it off from the midfield stripe on the Carroll Stadium turf to the penalty area where she was about to attempt a penalty kick that would send the Quincy University women's soccer team into the championship game of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament and virutally guarantee the Hawks an NCAA Tournament bid.

The walk was far enough where nerves could have consumed her. Or it was just long enough to say a prayer and talk to an angel.

She chose the latter. It reminded her she never walks alone.

Her father, Ed Greubel, is forever with her.

"I said a little prayer, as I do before every game, but I said it again," said Greubel, whose father passed away Nov. 20, 2016, after a battle with colon and liver cancer. "If any games have led up to a time when I need you most, it's right now. We need to get in this tournament. I need to do it for myself. I need to do it for my team. Any extra help, I will take."

Her angel listened.

Greubel made the PK, ricocheting the shot into the net off the bottom of the crossbar as Quincy eliminated Bellarmine with a 5-3 victory in the shootout after playing to a scoreless draw. Although the Hawks didn't follow it up with a victory in the title game, their NCAA dreams were realized.

They are the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional and will play host to the first two rounds at Legends Stadium. Third-seeded Ohio Valley and sixth-seeded Bellarmine square off at noon Thursday, with Quincy waiting to play the winner at noon Saturday.

No matter which opponent the Hawks face, it's almost like they are playing with a man advantage.

Ed Greubel will be there.

"I know, I absolutely know she had a guardian angel by her side," QU coach Dave Musso said after Greubel made the winning PK. "That's why I put her in there. I knew she was going to make it."

She knew her dad was watching, too.

"He was definitely there," Greubel said. "Maybe even teasing me a little bit when he sent that ball off the crossbar, but he was definitely there."

As comforting as that is, it was a challenge to come to grips with playing her final season without her dad alongside.

Described as charasmatic, silly and confident, Ed knew how to engage people. It made him part of the QU soccer family.

"He got to know anybody and everybody," Greubel said. "He loved to sit down and have a conversation. He was a huge conversationalist. He was just a good guy. He was adaptable. He would always make you feel comfortable and he would always tell you how it is."

That was especially true after watching his daughter play.

"He'd tell me, 'You did bad. Or you did good. You did this wrong. You did this right,'" Greubel said. "I don't really have that anymore. You kind of see the girls after the game going up to their dad. It's hugs to the mom, who is the more empathetic person, and then there's the dad, who is the 'Hey, this is what you need to focus on' one.

"It's weird that I don't really have that. My mom, bless her heart, is trying her best, but it's just different. I try not to make it a sad thing. We've been through a lot, but there are families who have been through a lot worse."

The Greubels weren't going through this alone.

They had QU soccer family fighting with them.

Ed was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015 with his daughter in her second season at QU. The cancer eventually spread to his liver as well. At the time, the Hawks' two captains -- Haylye Markway and Ashley Burton -- ordered rubber wristbands for the team to wear in green and dark blue.

"We wore them secretly under our goalie gloves or we would wear them around our shoes since they were rubber and could stretch," Greubel said.

For two seasons, they were a sign of hope, strength and support for the Greubels.

"We talk about togetherness and having each other's back and caring about each other," Musso said. "Soccer is a just a game. There's so much more to it in life. They're growing as players, but they're growing as people, too.

"Our girls really showed Bailey what it meant to be a part of this family. We care about everybody."

With that in mind, the Hawks have worn black sweatbands with the initials "EG" on them as a tribute to a family member lost.

"It's a comfort cushion," Greubel said. "It reminds me why I'm playing and who I'm playing for."

She's having the best season of her career, individually and collectively. Greubel earned third-team All-GLVC honors as one of the starting center backs for a defense that has posted 13 shutouts this season. She's played every minute this season -- 1,839 total -- and has started 76 of her 80 career games.

And she's matured into a leader.

"She communicates and she's the person during halftime who speaks up," Musso said. "She's a leader by example and a vocal leader on the field. She's growing every game, and I think she played her best soccer last weekend. She's still getting better and has developed into a high-level player."

She's done so displaying the strength and poise inherited from her father.

That will forever be a lasting tribute.

"Knowing he was proud of me makes me proud to be his daughter," Greubel said. "It's a name I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It's an impact I will carry with me for the rest of my life. There's not a day, not a minute goes by where there's not something I do or accomplish that I don't want to talk to him about or that I don't want to tell him about.

"Whether it's academics or whether it's soccer, like going to the GLVC Tournament and getting the No. 2 seed in the NCAAs and all that good stuff, there's always something I want to tell him. Then I sit back and realize I can. Say a prayer. Reach out to him. Tell him all these good things are happening."

And he'll listen, smile and send a prayer back his daughter's way.

That's what an angel does.

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