March 1, 2018

Batten's Veronica Latsko Wins High ACC Athletics Honor While Pursuing Professional Soccer

Soccer star Veronica Latsko has started her professional career earlier than most of her fellow fourth-years. While still a Batten student, Latsko has moved to Houston and is trying out for a roster spot with the Houston Dash, one of nine teams in the top women’s professional soccer league in the United States.

(all player photos courtesy of

She recently was selected as one of three ACC student-athletes to receive the prestigious 2018 Thacker Award. The Jim and Pat Thacker postgraduate scholarships are awarded to select student-athletes who intend to pursue a graduate degree following completion of their undergraduate requirements. Each recipient will receive $6,000 toward his or her graduate education.

Latsko is among those honored who have performed with distinction in both the classroom and their respective sports, while demonstrating exemplary conduct in the community, the ACC said.

Latsko, a forward, successfully maintained a demanding schedule for both academics and athletics. She led the women’s team in points last fall—and also earned her second selection to the ACC All-Academic Team. She had five game-winning shots during the 2017 season, and she was named to the All-ACC First Team.

The Dash selected Latsko as the 28th player in the National Women’s Soccer League draft last month. She is now on the team’s preseason roster as a midfielder. The Dash play their first preseason game March 10, in Portland, against the Portland Thorns—while most of Latsko’s classmates are finishing up their final college spring break.

Latsko, of Venetia, Pa., is completing her coursework to graduate in May with with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy and Leadership from Batten and a second major in Foreign Affairs.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to do it without my coaches, everybody at Batten, all the professors,” Latsko said, citing in particular Batten’s Amanda Crombie, Director of Academic Programs, and Jill Rockwell, Senior Assistant Dean for Student and Career Services.

“They’ve helped me so much, (including) planning out my schedule so that I can run from practice to (class), and (for) office hours because I missed my class because it overlapped with practice.” And coaches let her focus on individual workouts, at times, so she would have time free for classes.

“It was just so much coordination with all of my academic advisors and professors and my coaches, and I would never have been able to do this without their help.

“It was incredible.”

Crombie said, ”Veronica and I worked very closely with her Athletics academic advisor, Heather Downs, to create this freedom for her academically.

“She had to be incredibly proactive in satisfying her academic requirements early to allow her to take part in this exceptional opportunity. From the minute Veronica started in the Batten School, we were planning and she was working toward this outcome. I am in awe of her ability to balance an accelerated academic schedule and athletics while still being an active part of the Batten community.”

Among her biggest supporters is the veteran coach of the women’s soccer team, Steve Swanson, who has worked with players who became Olympic athletes and professionals. Latsko is the 12th UVA player selected in the history of the draft of the National Women’s Soccer League. UVA has more players drafted than any other U.S. college or university.

“If you look at all of her accomplishments in college, all the things that she’s done in college, you would be overwhelmed,” Swanson said. “It would almost make you exhausted thinking about all the things that she’s done. She’s a doer.”

“But she does it with a smile on her face. She’s just such a giving person. She’s been such a good ambassador to our program and the University.

“We all support her and hope that she’ll make the professional roster because I think she’s got a lot to give.”

Latsko’s career at UVA suggests the likelihood of strong tryout to win a place with the Houston Dash.

She played in 93 games at UVA, including coming off the bench in the national championship match her freshman year, when the Cavaliers lost 1-0 to Florida State.

Latsko was selected to the ACC Academic Honor Roll her first year, and was named to the honor roll three times. In her second year of play, she started 10 games and helped UVA reach the quarterfinals in national competition. The team reached the NCAA round of 16 in her last two years.

In her third year, Latsko was a 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District selection. (CoSIDA is the College Sports Information Directors of America association.)

Last season, Latsko served as one of three captains on the team, including the position of field captain. She also was named to the third team of the 2017 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Women’s All-East Region Teams. In October she was named both the United Soccer Coaches Player of the Week and the ACC Offensive Player of the Week when she tied the UVA women’s record of eight points in one game. In her career, Latsko tallied 26 goals and 14 assists, totaling 66 career points.

Latsko’s final two courses are her Batten final Capstone course, Jeffery Bergner’s “War Powers” class, and an independent study class with Bonnie Hagerman, Director of Undergraduate Programs and Assistant Professor in the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality.

In the Bergner course, Latsko and a team of three other students are studying the war powers of the office of president of the United States through current and former case studies. This Capstone class is “awesome,” Latsko said.

Her course with Hagerman focuses on Title IX, the 1972 federal law improving women’s athletics programs that also been the basis of complaints against schools charged with poor responses to sexual assault.

“That’s been much of my concentration at Batten over these last two years,” Latsko said. “It’s heavy, and it’s important. And when you have progress, that is exciting.”

All of this is in addition to Latsko’s duties as president of UVA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which serves as an avenue of communication for student-athletes with the athletics administration and the University as a whole, as well as with the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Latsko sees a legal career in her future, with an emphasis on women’s rights. And Virginia’s law school would be at the top of her list of preferred schools. “One hundred percent,” she said. “I would love to come back here.”

“We are all rooting for her to have a long career in professional soccer,” Swanson said. But in all of her future endeavors, “I know that Veronica is going to be successful just because of who she is.”

An international commitment might be a part of her future, as well. She is close to her aunt, Linda Latsko-Lockhart, whose Global Give Back Circle is a non-governmental organization that provides college scholarships and mentoring programs to 1,400 at-risk young women in Kenya, China, South Africa, India, and Rwanda. Latsko has traveled with her aunt in this work.

“I think her parents deserve an enormous amount of credit for raising her the way they did, and the kind of person that she is,” Swanson said of Latsko’s parents, Lauren and John Latsko.

When people look at an athlete, they’ll ask, “What did they accomplish, or what did they do?,” Swanson said. “But, for me, it’s more important who they are on the inside.

“And I can tell you Veronica is one of the best.”

Though Latsko is excited to play professional soccer—”for as long as I can play”—she said there is a sadness in leaving Grounds early during her final semester.

“It’s exciting and sad,” she said. “No one ever really wants to give up their last semester of college. I don’t know too many people who are eager to leave college.

“But it’s exciting in that I get to try something new, and something that I’ve always aspired to do, that didn’t seem like it would become reality.

“And, somehow, did.”

Swanson reflected with a coach’s perspective of recruiting a high-school athlete and watching her develop into a professional soccer player.

“With Veronica, everything you thought would happen, happened for her.

“You thought that she would be a great leader for you. You thought that she would be such a good example, with how hard she worked. You knew she would be a good student and a great ambassador for the program, both in class and on the field. And you felt strongly that she would help you win.

“And she did all those things.”

In This Article

Amanda  Crombie
Director of Academic Programs
Email Address
Phone Number
Office Location/Room Number
Garrett L052
Jill  Rockwell
Senior Assistant Dean for Student and Career Services
Phone Number
Office Location/Room Number
Garrett 201