If I had to use one word to describe myself, I would use determined. To me, determined means someone who is powerful or who has an air about them where you can just tell they are going to do things in life. I have felt this feeling around my mother, who inspires me everyday, and in myself. I haven’t always felt determined. In fact, I used to hate soccer. Every single time I would go to practice I would say “I hate soccer, I hate soccer, I hate soccer.” Then during tryouts one day a coach told me that the purpose of a coach is help an athlete improve. The purpose of an athlete is to have fun playing whatever sport. He told me that if I was not having fun, then why was I there?
From that day on, I loved soccer. Something about what that coach said hit me and I realized I really liked soccer. I began to work really hard. I pushed myself at my own practices, then I would attend my brother’s practices and I would dribble miles around the field just to improve my touch. From that day forward, I resolved to improve my soccer-self and prove to my own self the many successes I can achieve through my personal determination.
The next year at tryouts, I made the top team at my club, Inter Atlanta. I was previously on the third team. This boosted my confidence and allowed me to get where I am at today. Successes like these, along with becoming a starter for my club team and making varsity as a freshman, have proven that my determination and personal drive will take me to where I want to go.
Although I have had success, I have also had many times where I have had to re-think what soccer meant to me. I went through a time period 2-3 years ago where I started to doubt myself. Every practice felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff. One mistake and I would fall off that cliff. All I remembered in games were my mistakes. On the field, I would wear that mistake for 5 minutes through my body language. I realized that this was not a path I wanted to continue. I was forced to rebuild my confidence from the ground up starting with the relationship with my coach. A good relationship with a coach is something I highly value, even now. I was timid with my coach at the time because he was an intimidating man with a bit of a reputation. He could tell that my ability to play was being affected by my loss in confidence, so we sat down and had a conversation about it. After that conversation, my outlook on soccer, and myself, changed. I was able to talk to my coach, and the reassurance he provided allowed my confidence to grow. The growth of my confidence did not happen all at once, the process took time and I am still in fact working on it; however, through the process I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned that the relationship I have with my coach is vitally important to my success. When I have a bad game or practice, I like to ask my coach what I can do to improve. I have also learned that ‘the opponent’ isn't always the person you are playing, but the mindset you are in when you go into the game. Now when getting ready for a game, I imagine all of the times I have pushed someone down or beaten someone or even gotten beat, but then got the ball back from them. This drives me to do that same thing again and again until ‘the opponent’ is scared to go against me.
A story about me has been shared, that when I was a really young, my grandfather held me in his arms, watching me. He could see my wide eyes flitting from person to person as the conversation roamed throughout the room. He took one look at me and said, “this one has got it all figured it out.” I have carried that with me through my entire life. To me, it exemplifies my perceptiveness to read people and situations beyond what is put out through simply words or emotions. This is demonstrated through my friends when they come to me for advice in arguments. I try to listen with attentiveness and with some friends who may not be able to express them self in the best way, I try to read between the lines to see what they are really feeling. I translate perceptiveness onto the field by being able to read the game and the field well. I am able to play as a unit in the back by being perceptive to the unpredictable changes that occur throughout the game and responding in the way I believe will help my team the best. For example, covering other defenders in the back if someone gets beat or if someone attacks through the offense.
My determination is a quality I highly value in my life. It allows me to offer a mindset that drives me to continue even when I make a mistake or my confidence fails. It also allows me to use my perception to help my team win games and play at the top level. I think I offer a unique package that would benefit any collegiate team.