Josie Windauer is taking her love of soccer to the next level.
The Columbia Falls High School senior will continue her playing career at the University of Montana in Missoula next year, but leaves as the Wildkats all-time leading goal scorer in a season and for her career. In fact, Windauer scored more goals this season (33) than the career leader for the boys program did in three years (31). Her record of 82 career goals is 15 more than Lisa Carter recorded from 2002-2005. Twice she scored five goals in a single game, also a Wildkat record.
“The goal record was one I wanted since I got to high school and it was very hard to get,” Windauer said about her accomplishment. “When we would get up by a lot, we would not run up the score, so that made it harder than it could have been. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, especially Maddie Robison, who had assists on so many of my goals over the last two years.”
Robison, a sophomore, is already the Kats’ career leader in assists with 25, but Windauer is a close third at 20, proving she can do more than just score goals.
Winduaer, who did not play youth sports at first due to shyness, took up soccer as a second grader at the suggestion of her parents. Her initial shyness soon gave way to a love of team camaraderie and a fiery passion to improve and succeed. Even though she was new to sports, Windauer made the decision to play above her age group. The decision paid off as her skills improved and her team, the Whitefish Rapids, won the select soccer state championship.
“I really enjoyed it and I think it really helped me develop as a player,” she said. “I just wanted to explore the game more and get better. It was my choice and I think it paid off. I liked the team part of it, connecting with your teammates. It is also a sport that allows you to be pretty creative. There are not a whole lot of set plays in a game, otherwise you get to do whatever it takes and make it up as you go. It’s just a really fun sport.”
Windauer’s love of soccer continued to grow when she made the Wildkat varsity squad as a freshman, though injuries kept her off the field for much of the season. She began to blossom in her sophomore season, helping lead the Kats to a Northwest A Conference championship, but truly began he scoring barrage as a junior, when she scored 28 goals and once again led the Kats to a conference title and a state semifinal appearance.
Windauer capped off her career with her 33-goal senior season in 2019, leading the Kats to their third straight conference title and another trip to the state semi-final. She was also named to Class A All-State soccer team for the third straight year after what she said was her favorite season with the Kats.
“We were just such a tight knit group this year. Whenever someone would score, we wouldn’t just celebrate the goal, we would celebrate whoever scored it. Everyone was so supportive and it was a great culture to be a part of.”
She said her favorite game also came this year as the Wildkats picked up a last-second win at Laurel, taking down the team that had beaten them in the playoff the previous season.
“Everyone had the best game of their lives and we got a huge win on the road.
“We were all so excited and it gave us such a confidence booster at that point of the season. I will never forget that game,” she said.
Windauer will be joining the Lady Griz on a partial soccer scholarship next year and intends to pursue a degree in either wildlife biology or forestry. She says that is not yet sure where on the field she will be playing for the Griz as she looks to earn a spot on a team that went undefeated in the Big Sky Conference play this season with no seniors on their roster.
“College soccer is quite a bit different from high school, so they are not sure yet where they are going to use me. The coach has mentioned the possibility of playing defense, or I might stay at the forward position. I just don’t know yet,” Windauer said. “I’m up for learning a new spot. I’m open to trying something new and doing whatever they need me to do. Soccer is fun no matter what position you play.”
A nature lover who enjoys bow and rifle hunting as well as hiking, Windauer said when it came time to decide on a college, her decision was an easy one.
“Living here gives me the opportunity to do the things I love to do, so going to a school in Montana was a pretty easy choice. Not only do I get to play soccer, but all of the resources are available to do all the stuff I love,” she said. “It will help me stay close to my family and friends and the coaching staff has been great to me. I can’t wait to get there and get involved.”
Windauer was also a member of the basketball and track teams for the Wildkats and says that no matter what happens with the Griz, she knows she will have the support of her family, as will her older brother Ben, who is playing football at Montana Tech, and her younger brother, Justin, who is a high school freshman participating in football, wrestling and track.
“I just want to thank all of my coaches and my family for showing such unending support to me and my brothers,” she said. “I would not be the person I am without them.”