I’ve been playing soccer since I was four. I started playing because I wanted to play a sport, any sport. Little did I know I would be writing about soccer so many years later. I used to play soccer because it was fun, but now I play soccer because I love it. Not only do I enjoy playing soccer, but watching it as well. I watch how the women who came before me play.
For example, Crystal Dunn. She is almost always the smallest person on the field, but she is also the fastest. She uses her body as a weapon against her opponent and makes her presence known. Crystal Dunn is my favorite player on the US Women’s Soccer Team not because of the number on her back (we both wear #19) or the position she plays, I like her because of the person she is on the field. She takes charge, goes where she is needed and is a leader.
Soccer isn’t the only sport with amazing female stars. Two other sports that I participate in are basketball and snowboarding. Both of those sports also have influential female athletes. The thing to remember is, those women didn’t just magically become amazing at the sports they play. They had to work hard and it wasn’t always easy.
I have overcome a lot during the time that I have played soccer. Including countless injuries, and finding my “home” on a team. Each has tested my love for soccer and my dedication to the game. The biggest obstacle I had to overcome came when I was nine years old. This is when I was cut from my first travel soccer team. I was devastated. I feared I would never play again. At the time, I was going to a soccer camp where a few of the counselors were coaches on the team that decided to cut me. The team was already made, but there were some girls floating around on a waiting list...I was one of those girls. There was no way I was going to just give up. I felt as though I had to make that team. Before the camp started, I had talked to one of the coaches. Coach Joe to be exact. I had spoken to him about how I had gotten cut and how I didn’t know what to do. He told me how he had gotten cut from one of his teams.
Coach Joe inspired me to work my butt off and try to get off the waiting list and onto the team. So that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t just work hard for a few minutes, I worked hard for the whole day and week, because I knew that just the smallest little thing could make me lose my chance of making the team. I knew I had a lot stacked against me - I was the youngest player playing up and I was the smallest. I was not ready to give up though! Later that summer, I got a phone call that I had made the team. This experience taught me a lot about being resilient and never giving up on my dreams.
Resilience is just one asset I have gained playing not just soccer, but sports in general. If I were to explain to another girl out there why I think playing sports is so beneficial and why they should give it a try, it would be because of what sports have given back to me. Yes, trying something new is scary. Yes, feeling like you are going to mess up is not ideal, and yes, maybe you have had a bad experience in the past. Here is the thing though...trying something new can open a door to new possibilities you never knew were there.
I cannot imagine my life without soccer. Not only has it taught me to be resilient on and off the field, but it has also taught me how to be a leader in life. It has given me confidence both in the game and in life, and has made me who I am today. I truly enjoy when coach makes me team captain during games, I take the lead on group projects at school, and I don’t shy away from standing up for things I believe in. This is all thanks to soccer. The best thing soccer has given me though are best friends. When I am on the field, my team is my family.
So let me leave you with this: In whatever sport you play or goal you are working towards in life, “Use failure to fuel you, gain resilience each time you rise, be a daring and determined dreamer, and dodge the doubters”.
- Mia Secko-Thompson