When I was one, my older brother played non-competitive soccer. He was five years old at the time. He was my hero, and I wanted to do everything he did. So, I constantly jumped out of my stroller and/or mom’s arms and ran onto the field to join my brother and help him win the game. Of course, I had no idea what soccer was, and the type of soccer he played was not even close to the type of soccer I would eventually play. Inevitably, when I was old enough to join the non-competitive soccer program in which my brother played, my mom signed me up. And so, my soccer career began. It was the love and adoration of my brother that lead me to discover the love of the most amazing sport ever played, soccer.
As I grew older, I was encouraged by several volunteer coaches (mostly dads of other players on the team) to try out for a competitive soccer team. I was consistently told how my speed and agility would make me a great soccer player. So, at the age of ten, I attended my first practice/training with an already established team for a local competitive club. When the practice ended, I walked off the field in tears. I was so intimidated; those girls were so strong and good at soccer. That experience was the first of many life lessons. One of my favorite quotes is, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Sure, I have some natural talent, but I will always work hard to improve and perfect my skill set. The day I stop working hard is the day I stop playing soccer. I started on the lowest team in my age group when I joined my current club four years ago, and each year, I have moved up a level. I quickly learned that speed and agility are not the only skills required to be a good soccer player. So, I went to extra training and worked on my own at home on ball control and learning the rhythm of the game.
The beauty of being a competitive athlete is that the work ethic carries over into other aspects of life. I learned that I could also be a competitive student, and if I worked hard, I could make honor roll and be inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. The lessons I learned have taught me the value of teamwork, commitment, sacrifice, and hard work. These characteristics will help me make a strong impact on a college soccer team, as well as help me to succeed academically while remaining a strong team leader.