From Media Day 2020, there is a picture of Florida Gators junior Cassidy Lindley proudly showing off a toy carrot. She told BGN, “Susi Espinoza, our goalkeeper, gave me the carrot as one of our locker buddy gifts. They always make the joke that I look like a carrot when we wear our orange uniforms because of my red hair.”
“I’m just going to make the most of having to wear orange for pictures and I’m just going to bring it with me.”
For Lindley, “The Carrot” may be a great nickname. Not only because of the combination of her kit and hair color but also because carrots are known for helping with vision and her vision on the pitch and of the bigger picture off the pitch are top class.
Through two seasons for the Gators, Lindley has scored five goals to go with ten assists. But, it’s actually at the other end of the pitch that Cassidy has focused on improving most since arriving in Gainesville. “I think coming in as a freshman, I wasn’t the best defender in the world,” she said. “I was never really forced to do that when I was on my club team and stuff.”
“Coming in just trying to work on my defensive side of the game the past two years, tracking back and whatnot, I think I’ve become a lot more of a versatile player. I feel like that will help because I can play some different positions, just depending on what different formation we play.”
Before becoming a Gator, Cassidy grew up in Carmel, Indiana, and excelled for St. Theodore Guerin Catholic H.S. and the Indiana Fire Academy. “My Indy Fire teammates are still my best friends to this day,” she said. “We have a huge group chat.” Lindley reflected on how special it was to play with that many talented girls, go their separate ways for college, and still come back together every summer to hang out, play, and train. “Being on that team, and being coached by some of the coaches we had there, was unbelievable. It was so much fun,” she added.
Outside of Lindley and her talented teammates, Indy Fire have a track record of producing great players including USWNT alums Lauren Holiday and Lori Lindsey. Cassidy has been called into national team camp at the U-15 and U-17 levels. She explained that the call-up does give you some confidence and that the camps are very fun but also difficult because you’re competing with the top players. When it comes to a potential call-up to the senior team, Lindley said, “I don’t really play for the thought of being on the full team one day. I just want to focus on college and being a good collegiate player right now.”
Another Indy Fire alum is Cam Lindley, Cassidy’s older brother and a midfielder for Indy Eleven of the USL Championship. As anyone with a talented older sibling knows, it’s tough not to get caught up in comparisons. Cassidy explained in a previous feature by UF that she used to struggle with comparing herself to her brother but moved beyond that and was better off for it.
Now, Cassidy is able to go to Cam for advice if she needs it and she’s thankful for that. Cassidy said, “When I get a compliment from him, I’m like ‘Woah, I must’ve actually done good.’ (After the last match) He called me after the game and said ‘you played well.’ That’s exciting because that’s all we talk about is just like the basis of it. ‘You played well’, ‘Good job’, that’s it. But then, we just talk about life.”
Cassidy is happy for her brother as he got to showcase his skills for their hometown club in Indy Eleven. “It’s been amazing to honestly see him just be happy,” she said, adding that he gets to be surrounded by family and friends. “That’s exciting to see someone play happy and it’s obviously notable on the field.”
Surprisingly, she couldn’t recall anything specific that her and Cam were competitive with each other at growing up except soccer. When asked for three things she is better at now than her older brother, she responded with: anything musical, singing, and ice-skating. “He will literally fall down if he gets on the ice. So bad, his balance is awful,” Cassidy added. On the other side, she admits that he’s a better cook, better at basketball, and really anything involving hand-eye coordination.
Thankfully for the Gators, Lindley won’t need to knock down a three-pointer or cook up a delicious meal for the team tomorrow. Instead, they will be relying on her skills on the soccer pitch when they face Vanderbilt at home tomorrow, live on the SEC Network+ (steam only).