Those first few years were brutal and tested my mental toughness every step of the way, but now I realize that those years gave me a competitive edge. I played YMCA soccer during my youth, which was non-competitive, where I learned basic soccer skills from my dad. Then, in 4th grade, I was asked to join a newly created club soccer in our area. The first fall and spring seasons were character-building to say the least. While I was improving as a player, our team consistently lost, and the games were not even close. It was demoralizing, but I never considered walking away. Those tough years taught me more than I even realized until recently. In retrospect, I attribute not only my soccer skills but my mental game to that club soccer program. As I gained a better understanding of the sport, specific skills and how to read a field, I also learned from teammates and how to work with them as a family. After three years, our team was on top of the U-14 PA West board and went rarely scored on. As a player I witnessed first hand that dedication, a strong work ethic, an entire team that focuses on daily improvement could truly change the outcome.
My mental toughness has been tested immensely since moving up from U14 club soccer to varsity soccer at my school. Our school team has not made playoffs in a long time. However, even if we are down by ten, I attempt to break it up and put a couple in. I am very disciplined. I remember the tough years and how much I hated that feeling, so I always try to stay on my A game. As a freshman, I started but played mostly defense, and now, as a junior, I've stepped into the leadership role in my team and play midfield. I stay very humble because even though I usually play very well, I also make mistakes. However, the biggest compliment that I receive from those who watch my game is that I can read a field, know where to move and how to stop opponents. I consider myself an unselfish player, constantly communicating with my coach and moving where the team needs me because the team’s success is more important than my own preference. In closing, I would ask you to really consider and believe in me. I will not fail.