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Augie's Triple Threat

October 17, 2011, 10:15 PM by Matt Holsen

Augie's Triple Threat
SIOUX FALLS, SD - One could listen all day to the mellow tones coming out of Maren Werth's harp. But don't let the music fool you.  When the sophomore isn't plucking away, she's usually on the soccer field attacking her opponent's goalie.

"I have to be very focused mentally and physically on soccer and then harp is just more of a relaxation and to take time off from the craziness of this," Werth said.

While a lot of people play soccer starting at a young age, not many opt to pick up the harp. Maybe because the cost for a mid-grade harp runs about $30,000. But when the Bloomington, MN-native first set eyes on one, she knew it was an instrument she had to have.

"I saw some lady at my church play. I was like this is the coolest thing ever. I was probably like five or so years old. Just seeing this huge gorgeous instrument sitting on stage, I was like that would be so cool if I could do that," Werth said.

Since that time, Werth has spent countless hours picking up techniques and practicing with her instrument just like any good musician.

"My parents have said, even hitting wrong notes, they have no idea when it is. They're like we're glad you didn't pick the recorder all the time. My brother and sister played the drums so they're happy that they didn't have a third drummer in the family," Werth said.

The contrast between what her siblings chose and her harp somewhat mirrors the contrast between her music side and sports side.

For starters, the schedules for each, at least at the collegiate level, usually prevent anyone from participating in both, not to mention a full nursing course load. But when it comes to Augustana, professors, coaches and instructors go out of their way to accommodate their gifted student-athletes.

"The huge draw for me was the fact that they would let me do all three. Thankfully most of the professors and soccer coach and harp teacher are pretty flexible with time schedules," Werth said.

"Soccer is one piece of it and I think it's a really important piece. I think the other things they have going on in their lives are pretty important as well," head coach Brandon Barkus said.

Barkus says Werth is one of several multi-talented players on his roster. And while, during the fall, soccer is his and Werth's focus, he still sets aside time to appreciate her musical skills.

"You think of a harpist that strums, she really plucks it, it's pretty amazing," Barkus said.

In between practice and games, Werth does spend about an hour a week taking lessons to help her toward a harp minor.

"That's kind of nice to get a little break from the craziness of school and of soccer. I found that it's a really good outlet when I'm cramming for a test or thinking about a big game. I just go in there, practice for an hour and it calms me down. I can let out some frustration which seems kind of weird to say about playing the harp but that's what happens," Werth said.

Once the soccer season comes to an end, Werth then shifts her focus to orchestra. And even though she doesn't get to play as many gigs outside of school as she'd like to, she still has fun keeping up with her instrument.

"The coolest thing is learning new techniques on how to do stuff, just little intricate notes that you can play here and there to spice up the piece up a little more," Werth said.

But regardless of how funky she can get playing the harp, her heart truly lies in one thing.

"Soccer, at least I hope she'd say soccer. She'd say soccer," Barkus said.

"Soccer, definitely, I mean as hard as it is at times it is my favorite thing to do and I've been playing since I was little so getting the opportunity to play here at Augie is awesome," Werth said.

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