As I sit here, trying to find out how to start this off, I can’t help but think, why not start at the beginning? While it seems so simple, the beginning is the part that I have the hardest time remembering.
For anyone who knows me, it might be hard to believe I started out taking dance lessons. I was also playing soccer, but nothing seriously. I was, after all, only 4 years old at this point. There was even a point early on when I wanted to be gymnast, which might be even harder to believe. I would be doing cartwheels and somersaults in the backyard trying to perfect it all, wanting to reach my goal of being the greatest gymnast ever. It’s safe to say that didn’t last long.
From the moment I came home and quit dance, my parents were a huge support. They were jumping into the world of club soccer completely blind. I was already playing on a team through my school with a lot of my friends; for some reason I wanted more than that. Both of my parents recognized what I had wanted, even if I couldn’t clearly say it out loud.
I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I found myself at my first practice with the club team I had ever played on. I was joining a team that had been together already for a few years, and that was nerve-racking. Walking into a group of people I don’t know is not the best situation for me, especially back then. I quickly adapted and found some great friends through that team, a couple of which I still see and talk with today.
I would say my first club team was a needed stepping stone. It was fun and exciting, and I felt like I was on my way to getting closer to where I one day dreamed to be. Like any girl at a young age, I often dreamed of someday wearing red, white, and blue, playing alongside some of the greatest players like Mia Hamm, or Abby Wambach, or Julie Foudy. I had spent so much time with my parents and my sister watching them play, and growing up with these three especially as my idols and role models.
As my mom tells it, and as my memory serves, every game I had my hair done in my “power pigtails”. It was rare for me to play a game, or maybe even attend a practice, without my pigtails present. I was always so sure they gave me the extra energy I needed and contained some sort of super powers to make me play my absolute best. They were a necessity; we always made sure to have time to have my hair done the right way.
I played on that team for a few years before moving on, so to speak. It wasn’t quite the time for tryouts, but the team I played on was the next step needed in order to get to tryouts. This group of teammates ended up being great friends as well. As it turns out, I would see them more often during the years to come as well.
While the first club team I played on had a more “for fun” vibe, the second team had more training and development opportunities. In other words, we were all just a little more serious about our future soccer careers.
Practices included trainers, games had higher intensities, and we lived soccer year-round. Granted, we were still only about 9 or 10 years old, but we loved every minute of it. Practices were held in school gyms, and there were indoor leagues all over town for us to participate in. While it certainly wasn’t conventional, it was all we needed to make sure we kept up our skills and touches.
From this experience I gained two new friends. We always tried to hang out during practices, and there were also times we talk on the phone or spend time hanging out outside of practices and games. In a way it also turned into a friendship between all of our parents. They would spend time together talking while we are doing our thing (most of the time it involved soccer in some capacity).
One other person had a good impression looking back, and that was our coach. He knew how to make it fun and keep us involved and interested. He made sure to focus on our positives, but also pushed us to ensure we were playing our absolute best; he knew how to relate to us.
As many people know, friendships and connections don’t last forever. It sounds very cliché, but at the same time it holds some truth to it. This seemed to be very short and summarized based on my memories. However, as I move forward, I hope to add more detail and insight to give a better view into my time as a soccer player.