Today, I would not recognize the reserved kid I was. The kid who happily let others take the lead and simply followed suit. I was honored as captain of my newly formed team, and with only three days to practice before the tournament, I learned efficiency and leadership real quick. My newfound confidence made me not only a better player but a better person. Throughout my journey in Spain, I grew more outgoing and aware of the different cultures and backgrounds of soccer athletes around the world. It is incredible the way we may not all speak the same language, eat the same foods, or even call our sport by the same name, but come kickoff, there is a true level playing field.
While the tournament revealed my character, my soccer skills were also unveiled… and apparently, they were not too shabby. After the tournament, I received an invitation to stay in Spain and attend a soccer oriented boarding school. Although staying could have provided a lot of opportunities for my developing soccer career, I knew the academic rigor could not compare to my school at home. Continuing at my school, known for its outstanding academics, would give me the chance to delve deeper into all of the customs and backgrounds I was exposed to in Spain. I believed I could grow more well-rounded by maintaining a balance of focus on soccer and school. Soccer is my passion. It has heavily contributed to who I am today - it makes me better, but it does not define me. I am more than a goalkeeper. Because of soccer, I am a leader, a fighter, and a hard-worker. Unfortunately, all soccer careers have an expiration date. You don’t see too many 65-year-olds-playing. I keep that in mind when focusing on my schoolwork in hopes of eventually working as an orthopedist for athletes because while I cannot play forever, the values and attitude soccer instilled in me will last forever.