UMass Lowell’s Drezek makes impact on and off field
In 60 career games, 54 as a starter, Abby Drezek has yet to score a goal.
But it’s hard to imagine a UMass Lowell athlete making a more positive impact on campus and in the community than Drezek, a 22-year-old soccer player who is involved with so many off-the-field activities she must have found a way to create a 25th hour each day.
“It’s not really about finding the time,” the Cumberland, R.I., native said. “I’ve always done better in school and sports when I’ve been busy. I don’t know why. I try to kind of fill up my schedule. It definitely makes me sit down when I get home and do my schoolwork because there’s no other time.”
For her academic, athletic and leadership achievements, Drezek has been nominated for the 2021 NCAA Woman of the Year award.
A two-time captain, Drezek also stars in the classroom, compiling a stellar 3.96 grade point average. She graduated with a degree in exercise physiology, with a psychology minor. She’s enrolled in a doctoral of physical therapy program at UML and will play a fifth season, bringing a smile to head coach Mira Novak.
“Abby’s impact on the team is tremendous — over her four years at UML she has developed into a leader and has been our team captain the last two years. She has earned the trust of her peers, and serves as an example of our values. She grows as a person and player every year, works hard, and competes on and off the field,” Novak said.
She was a shy teenager out of Cumberland High School when she walked onto UML’s campus.
“My freshman season I don’t think I spoke often. Freshman year I was really shy,” she said.
But she vowed to get involved.
“The school kind of gives us so much as student-athletes. We have resources upon resources to be successful, not only in our sport but in academics,” Drezek said. “We’re kind of very privileged. Playing a sport is a privilege.”
She has gotten involved in nearly a dozen organizations in the Merrimack Valley, many at the leadership level.
As the UMass Lowell Student Athlete Advisory Committee president, Drezek advocates for athletes on issues such as mental health, diversity and inclusion, and food insecurity. She has been an active participant in America East’s annual Food Frenzy, helping to collect canned goods for local pantries.
She also promotes mental health resources for students as a team member of Hidden Opponent and serves as an athletic lead in allyship training, promoting UML’s campus initiatives.
Off campus, Drezek’s reach extends to her participation with Dracut Turkey Baskets, World Reading Day and Boston Dream, which empowers young female athletes.
Drezek received the 2021 Chancellor’s Medal for Student Service as well as the UMass Lowell Award of Excellence for Leadership.
“It’s really all because of UMass Lowell,” she said. “I’m so happy with my choice because of my growth as a person. I really hit the jackpot.”
Drezek grew up in a “hectic” household as a triplet. Her brother Ben is a runner at UMass Lowell. Her other brother, Jacob, is enrolled in the University of Rhode Island’s Pharmacy School.
“That’s kind of where I got my competitiveness,” she said. “Growing up with two brothers the same age I always wanted to do better in school. To be faster. To be stronger. With two brothers it didn’t always work out that way.”
For all her academic and leadership successes, Drezek has also been a terrific soccer player at UMass Lowell. No, she doesn’t have any goals. But that’s not her job. As a defender, she’s one of the last resorts before opponents reach UML’s net.
Last season the 5-foot-3 Drezek led the River Hawks to four shutouts and the program’s first America East regular season championship. The River Hawks (5-2-1), playing a shortened season due to the pandemic, falling in the semifinal round of the playoffs.
“Winning the regular season was great. But losing in the semifinals is definitely going to push us,” she said. “At the end of the day, we can do better. We had so many shutouts. We didn’t even know (the defense) was (nationally) ranked. It’s so fun.”
Drezek helped the River Hawks set the following program records: consecutive shutouts (three), goals against average (0.495), fewest goals allowed (four) and consecutive wins (five).
The 2021 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced Oct. 17 in Indianapolis.
Her coach won’t wait that long to declare Drezek a special person and athlete.
“She is fully deserving of this nomination and it’s a credit to her development and hard work she has gone through over the last few years,” Novak said. “She cares about UML and our community, and through various initiatives she is helping to leave this place better than she found it.”