Hi I’m Naomi and I here to tell you a little about my life as a student-athlete. I remember the exact moment I wanted to start playing soccer. It all started when I was about 8 years old and I was at my sister’s team’s dinner that they had after every season. At that point both my brother and sister had been playing soccer for a couple of years. I wanted to see what the hype was about and how I could be a part of a team dinner. That was the last thing I remember before I went in to a soccer trance. Now I’m the only one out of my four siblings who still plays soccer. In fact, almost 8 years later, soccer is still attached to my life like a parasite, but in a good way. Unfortunately, as with all parasites there’s a bad side, a life draining quality, that makes you ask the worst questions; do I love this sport, is it worth it, am I even having fun anymore?
I asked myself those questions when I was on my old team. I used to cry because I had to go to practice when before that I would cry because I couldn’t go to practice. Soccer broke me. Except it wasn’t the sport that made me question my involvement. I often felt isolated from my teammates and as an extension, the game I once loved with my entire being. It was only worsened when I started to believe I was no good. The last straw was during the summer of 2017. My club coach at the time was holding tryouts for a Super Y team. Naturally I tried out with the intent to make this team. Even though another coach approached me before tryouts and said he wanted me on his Super Y team, I still wanted with everything to make my club coach’s team. It was like I wanted to prove to him I was worth the effort. However, my club coach confirmed what I had feared, I wasn’t. I wasn’t even among the top 20 choices and there were only 18 people that tried out from my actual club team. I was crushed, but even then I still hung onto a thin rope of optimism that I would receive the letter that read “Congratulations you made the team.” It never came. With advice from my mother and brother, however, I was able to break the spell my club coach had over me and I went with the team and the other coach who wanted me from the start. That decision led me to the club team I’m on now and I’m grateful. In addition, my teammates are awesome! Not to mention, my love for soccer has returned!
Thinking back, my old coach was a good coach. I’m thankful for all I learned from that time in training with his team. The skills I learned then, I still use today. For example, when heading the ball, pretend to break a picture frame. He also trained me well as a goalie and although I haven’t played in goal in awhile I still remember everything. With some practice I could get back to it. I still have days when my insecurities come up to the surface, but those days are fewer in number and further apart. I do thank my old coach for teaching me strength and perseverance because it does get better if you believe it will, not over night but it does happen over time. Now when those questions and insecurities try to find the light, I am able to look back and say to myself, it’s a bad play not a bad game. I apply that optimism in everything I do because I’ve learned that the only true thing that stops anyone from reaching their dreams is themselves. If you believe in something enough you can do it and that’s what I look for in a college. A college that believes in its students. I want a college that can help me in completing my endeavors.
I believe that life is a series of roads. I don’t want to be complacent with one road I want to branch off on to as many highways and into as many neighborhoods as I can. I don’t strive for perfection because perfection is just a unreasonable manmade concept. Instead, I strive to always better myself. As long as in the end I walk out with a better understanding of the world around me I’m happy. I love soccer and I’ll take this road as far as it will take me. I also love art and engineering and I want those roads to take me as far as they’ll take me as well. My hope is that by the end of my life I will have traveled enough roads and visited enough neighbors to make an impact in this world. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.