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Worth More Than Money

D1 Soccer Scholarships Blog
Kimberly Slade
Kimberly Slade
NCSA Recruiting Coordinator

$200,000. I was “worth” $200,000 in college, give or take. It was more than I could have dreamed of. I didn’t come from a lot of money and I had no idea that I would get an opportunity like this one. Ironically, one full athletic scholarship later, with all costs covered, I felt empty. I felt discouraged and worthless. I felt like I had let my program, my coaches, and myself down. I felt like I was not deserving of that award, after the ups and downs of injuries, confidence dives, more injuries, and more blows to confidence. Why?

As a youth player, I had so much confidence in my abilities, my skill, and even my identity. I spent the majority of my time at fields by myself. I didn’t care what I missed out on because, like many of my fellow athletes, I believed it was my life. It was my hope and my future. Soccer was all I ever really knew and I was determined to not let anyone or anything get in my way. It sounds crazy, but I think I loved the game more than I loved myself.

As a college athlete, I rarely thought I was good enough, not only as a player but as a person. After I broke my leg, months before I left to play in college, I spiraled. I believed that I did not deserve to be playing at a D1 program. Even after the hours, days, and months I spent working on recovery, I could not get past the mental roadblocks I created for myself. For those four years, I put an extreme amount of pressure on myself to perform at the highest level. I knew $200,000 was not “average” or “ordinary”; it was unfamiliar and it was extraordinary. I kept punishing myself, thinking that I was only valuable if I could live up to the monetary value of my scholarship. I used to tell myself, “you can’t even do the one thing right that you have been doing right all your life.” If that persists for four years, you will start to truly believe you have failed.

I placed a dollar amount on my value as a person. The sad part is, I forgot, even after being reminded by others, that I had earned that scholarship through years of preparation, training, and perseverance. By the end of my career, I barely enjoyed kicking the ball anymore because I associated the soccer with failure.

I will say that I was so lucky that my support system at school was great. I had a strong team of coaches, advisors, and teammates. I had always hoped that someone would believe in me as my college coaches did. I owe all of my coaches, from the club to collegiate level, my career. Someday, I hope I can give back to them as they have provided for me!

To fellow athletes:

  1. Even if you depend on your sport for stability, for safety, for happiness, or for fulfillment: that scholarship number is not your worth as a human being. Holding that number over your head can be dangerous. If you cannot perform perfectly every day, are you still valuable? Yes, you are.
  2. Please remember that you are enough. Continue to fall back on your work ethic and trust in the unique qualities that make you who you are. Do not let anyone take away your spirit and your drive. You are so much more than a figure written down on a piece of paper.
  3. Value is found within the hearts, minds, and unique gifts we all offer to the world. Seeing a player only as a number is a disservice to the athlete and the program they represent.

To coaches:

We don’t ask you to take it easy on us because we can handle the pressure; we know we signed up for it. We do, however, ask that you show up for us, especially when we struggle to show up for ourselves. Your hope in us is what continues to inspire us.

Someone once told me that where we focus our thoughts is where we focus our lives. Belief and faith, in ourselves and others, is what keeps us strong and powerful.

Person first, athlete second.

You are worth more than money. Visit our recruiting guides for resources on how to navigate the challenges of the recruiting process: