Monday, July 29, 2013
Well, this summer I knew I wanted to play soccer like I normally do; I just wasn’t sure where. I could live at home in Southern Maryland and play for the local team there and when I say local team I mean drive an hour and 45 minutes to practice... or.. I could venture elsewhere and continue to see the world! Somehow I managed to make this happen with the help of a few people.
Within 48 hours of a facebook message I decided to jump on the opportunity of playing for a USL W-League team in Santa Clarita, California. I literally messaged early Thursday morning and was on a plane to Cali by Saturday. I arrived not knowing where I would stay and how the team would be or if I would even have a car. Well, whatever, I was ready for a change of scenery as if I hadn’t been getting my dose of that already (Southern Maryland to Arlington to Thailand to Philippines to Bangladesh back to Southern Maryland). So I packed my bags and flew out to cali! The Santa Clarita Blue Heat team owner greeted me and took me to meet my host fam.
On the way there, the owner, Carlos, told me my host fam was a filipino lady. Phew! I knew I was in good hands and I knew my parents would calm down a little bit and stress less about my “gypsy-ness”. I was put up in a fabulous house basically on a cliff to view a beautiful valley. There was even a pool in the backyard. My new host mom also had an extra van so I got to be a little soccer mom early and tut around in a minivan! Hey, I couldn’t complain!
So far so good. The next day we already had a game. Well, this will be awkward. Don’t know any of these people and now I got to warm up and potentially play a game with them. I wasn’t expecting to play since I literally just arrived. But with me you should always expect the unexpected. Sure enough, at the end of the first half our centerback got injured and I was thrown into the game. I didn’t even know my teammates names and some of them couldn’t speak english. I managed. At least Real World prepared me for something! I went from 7 strangers picked to live in a house to 10 strangers picked to play with on a field. I know I’m so cheesy! In light of the Challenge: Rivals 2, I had to make a comment!
What a difference it is playing on the west coast than on the east coast. By now I would have gotten abuncha “WTF-are-you-doing-here?” looks and “I’m not gonna be nice to this new girl trying to take my spot.” Instead the team was super friendly and on the field they still meant business. If you could do better they let you know you should be doing better, but it wasn’t bitchy or mean, just “hey come on we are in this together.” I loved the vibe. It was a really great environment to be in. My teammates were very easy to get along with and my coach was dead on. He played professionally back in the day for Blackpool in the EPL so I knew he knew what he was doing. All around I found myself in an awesome situation. Nice team, smart coach, sick living set-up, a soccer mom minivan, all the while I am in Cali!
Our team also got to travel to Colorado and Seattle this summer and me being a gypsy meant seeing my friends that I have met in the most random places. I got to see Miss Emily Schromm from Real World DC who I just met in Thailand this year at the Challenge. I also got to see one my Philippine National Team teammates in Seattle. The world is so small!! I meet Emily in Thailand and see her in Colorado and Joanna in the Philippines and see her in Seattle!
Back to Cali, when I wasn’t playing soccer, I was trying to keep my fitness up at the gym and then I would relax and wind down at the beach with some friends. Seriously, it is as awesome as it sounds.. soccer and the beach! Also, did some aftershows for MTV so that helped pay for my airline ticket out here and for my ticket eventually back to Maryland, but I don’t wanna leave!
Now I am at the Philippine’s National Team Training Camp/Tryouts. I figured why not get some more training in while I am here in California anyway. So I extended my trip, picked up a rental car and am now participating in camp. Last week we had 4 hour long sessions of fitness, conditioning, strengthening, and ball work. This week we are outside doing more team based work. Next week I will return home for two weeks before I ship out to the Philippines for our annual ASEAN Football Federation Tournament. This year there are 10 teams rather than 8 and the two teams added include AUSTRALIA and JAPAN’s U23’s!!!!!! We play Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, and Japan. The tournament will be held in Myanmar, which I have yet to visit. After I return from that, well I don’t know what I will be doing. Being a gypsy has its downsides; never know what’s next! I would love to play in Australia’s W League, but that’s a long shot. Guess I will be back in good old St. Mary’s County!! I will obviously continue to train and I am also starting to get my coaching licenses. I don’t know what I would do without soccer, but I am glad I at least got my degree before I decided to become a gypsy.
Til my next adventure,
btw... Ya’ll better be watching The Challenge: Rivals 2 every Wednesday at 10pm on MTV!!!! #teamred #teamcookemaria