Thursday, February 14, 2013
It has been a week, today, since I was drafted for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Washington Spirit picked me in the last round of the Supplemental Draft. Although, I have not made the final 18-20 player roster, I have been awarded the opportunity to compete in the 32 player training camp. This is such an honor and a blessing to have even made it this far and I am so grateful! I never thought I was good enough to compete at this level.
My Soccer Story:
I grew up in a somewhat small town. When I was younger, I played on all boys teams and then eventually when I was on girls teams I played up a few age groups. The coach was always someone’s dad so I didn’t have the best of training; but playing with boys and older girls, I became equally strong and fast and nonetheless, competitive. When it came to high school, my dad insisted I try out for Maryland ODP and my 9th grade year I made it! My dad partly regretted that decision because that meant leaving work early and driving me two hours away every Monday for practice. After that, my ODP coach suggested I get on a more competitive club. And so came Bethesda Extreme.
Bethesda was a difficult adjustment for me. I was certainly the least technical player, but had the drive and passion for it and when I say drive I mean literally as well! Practice would be an hour and half to over two hours away on top of high school, other sports, and extracurricular activities. All of this was in the hope of playing in college. At this point, I still didn’t think I was good enough to compete Division 1, but I kept at it and by senior year I had a few choices, none of which were full rides. I valued my education and future and so those were very important and my decision process. I became set on the Coast Guard Academy which offered me all three, but of course they were only Division 3. However, I didn’t close the door to Division 1. A week before my early acceptance to the Coast Guard, Loyola University Maryland called me up and was able to give me a full ride.
I remember my dad asking if I would still go to the Coast Guard Academy if I was offered a full ride to a Division 1 school. Thinking that was an impossible feat, I said “Absolutely I’d still go to the Coast Guard.” Then I got that call and couldn’t believe it. I was always the underdog at the competitive level. In my hometown I was at the top, but outside of St. Mary’s County and Southern Maryland, people didn’t know who I was. I wasn’t exactly a standout on Bethesda either. But, my Loyola coach had coached me for a year in ODP and believed in me. He knew he could develop my skill and game and that I had the tools to get there. I was recruited based on my potential.
Loyola was a rough journey at times, but it all paid off. From being a clueless freshman to transforming into a confident senior, I continued to develop as a player and a person. Our last game was the most devastating day of my life. No more soccer, at least competitively speaking. I knew I had much more in me. I was a late bloomer and was hungry for more. As reality set in, I knew I had to continue with my life. I ended up getting a job back in my hometown after college, but continued to play in the summer in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). People thought I was insane to drive 90 mins just for practice. Or that after 40 hours of working I would drive 4 hours to Philly for a soccer game and then drive back. And then MTV called me up.
The Real World was a crazy experience and I am glad I had it even though it wasn’t the greatest point in my life. But, it derailed me from being at a desk for the rest of my life. Post-show I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and decided to enjoy my summer playing in the WPSL again sans job. The women’s World Cup was taking place and joking around with my teammate about the playing for the Philippines became a reality.
I literally googled the Philippines National Team that night and was surprised they even had one. That week, the federation emailed me back and wanted me to compete in a tournament that fall. Weeks later I flew to the Philippines to play for my mom’s homeland. This was huge for me. Growing up in America, I was kind of cheated of seeing my filipino side. The majority of my mom’s family still lives in the barrio (kinda like the neighborhood in the countryside of a tropical island) and I had only met them once in my life. So going back to the Philippines and going back to my roots was one of the best, if not the best, experience of my life.
Although, the Philippines is far less developed in terms of soccer than many parts of the world, it allowed me to continue to play. I also became a forward when I was there and began to see the game from a different perspective and became more comfortable on the ball. Our national team played with men to prepare ourselves for tournaments in Asia since there were simply not enough girls or competition to play with or against. And this is where I am now, in between tournaments and back stateside.
Since college, my life has led me in various directions and I never really know where I will be next year or even in 3 months. While home in Maryland, I decided why not try out for the new pro league. I want to see where I stand. I am here anyway. And what if this turns into something more.
Well, I went to tryouts and what a difference it is playing in America versus Asia. My height, build, athleticism used to be my advantage and now it was matched. Not only was it matched but it was outdone by women who had skill and more experience at this level. I was completely shocked when I got drafted, but I am extremely happy to be able to compete with these talented women.
I am not your ACC Alum or PAC 10 standout, but I am that small town girl that never gave up and just kept going. Today I am still not that player that has peaked or is at their prime. I am still a diamond in the rough, a project so to speak. But I do have that potential and I do have the heart.
Soccer is certainly my passion and I am happy to have made it this far. I have realized that soccer needs to be a part of my life and so I want to play as long as I can and learn as much as I can so one day I can help others to become their best and learn the beauty of this wonderful game. How blessed I am to have an opportunity to compete with some of the best soccer players in the world! This already is a dream come true. I know that I am playing for much more than myself. I am playing for those who didn’t get this opportunity. I am playing for my alma mater, Loyola University Maryland. I am playing for the Philippines and the Asian Football Confederation. I am playing for my coaches, teammates, and my family that got me here. Lastly, I am playing for God who has blessed me with this opportunity. For all of those things I will give it my best and no matter the outcome I will be happy to be in my boots.