As many of you know, I played college soccer for four years at Jacksonville State University. Since I completed my eligibility, I stayed involved in soccer by coaching a wonderful club team of 13-year-olds. Besides that — my soccer involvement has been limited.
Finishing my career was a major challenge. I know my identity is supposed to be rooted in Christ, but when I played my last game in a JSU uniform, I felt lost. A game that was apart of my life for 18 years was abruptly no longer a part of my life. I was now just a regular student, but I really had no clue how other people did that. I had a bout with minor post-career depression, which I have since learned is very common. It was hard seeing my roommates still going to practice and I would’ve paid a lot of money to have to do fitness again, which is something I complained about my entire career.
Even when I came to terms with the end of my competitive playing days, I still dreamed about playing almost every night. I have been done for a year and a half now, but recently, the dreams got more and more common. Almost every night I would be on the sidelines for one of my former teams trying to get in the game, but I just couldn’t.
I finally decided I had to find a way to get back in the game to some degree. I emailed a local indoor soccer venue and got placed on the “house” team. Due to my unique position with D’s baseball, they let me play game-by-game.
I then found a semi-pro team in the WSL league that plays throughout the summer. While it is usually meant for college players looking to get touches in the summer, I emailed the coach. Long story short, despite my inability to be at every practice (twice a day the entire summer), they are letting me train with them when I am in town. I have freedom to see D play and spend time with him while being apart of a team again.
My first practice was very interesting. I showed up and was definitely the odd (wo)man out, for two reasons. First, everyone knew each other and had played together for a while now, I could just tell. They immediately got going with the normal warm-up routine. Second, I noticed a majority of the girls did not speak english. I quickly learned that this was actually the Haitian national team. They are training for the 2015 Olympics and had been playing friendlies with college teams in the region to train. Many of them are sticking around for this WSL summer ball season to get more touches.
It’s funny because one of the reasons I wanted to play was to get some human interaction and find some new friends in the area. Then what happens? Of course, I show up and none of them speak English. Just my luck.
Overall, training went well. I was extremely nervous about making a fool of myself. I played much better than anticipated, but shanked the ball multiple times like I had never shot a ball in my life before — embarrassing. Not to mention, I speak neither French nor Creole, so I was behind the ball, constantly trying to figure out what was going on. Luckily, one of the American girls let me in on a couple of key French words to use and the premise of the drills we were playing.
I got to see the team play against Notre Dame women’s soccer. Coming from a mid-major DI, I was in heaven at Notre Dame’s soccer STADIUM. Like a real stadium with concessions — I can’t imagine calling that home for four years.
It was really cool seeing the team that I have been training with playing on the field against a highly respected program.
I want to encourage anyone who is putting off doing what they love. It is hard to explain how good it feels to be apart of the game I love again, as a player. I often fight back jealousy for Daniel that he is able to continue to play the game he loves. But, God is definitely in the business of giving you what you need exactly when you need it. This opportunity is none other than the fruits of that truth. It is fun being sore again and having bruises. I never ever thought those words would come out of my mouth again, but here we are. God surprising me yet again.