Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I'M FINALLY PRO!

I'm finally PRO!!!! After 21 years I am here! I think from the beginning, I knew I would not stop until I accomplished this goal.  My mom told me I couldn't wait to play soccer and that I was upset when they wouldn't let me play when I was 3 1/2!  And even at 4, I would push whoever to get the ball including my own teammates! I don't know where this innate desire to play came from.  I would say it started from my older brother who played and once this game peaked interest I couldn't stop.  Soccer and family are the two things that have been consistent and present in my life.  I don't know what I would do without either of them.  I am so grateful to be able to play the wonderful game at 25. But the number one reason I am made it here.. I never gave up!

Wow, it has been a journey.  Growing up in a smaller town, it was hard to find better competition.  I played on an all boys team at 9.  In middle school, I played an age group up on a travel team in the next county.  In high school, I had commitments to 3 soccer teams (high school-Leonardtown, Maryland Olympic Development Program-ODP, and club-Bethesda).  ODP and Bethesda had practices year round with most of them two hours away.  And then I played at Loyola University Maryland and in the summers I played on travel teams as well. Post college I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life.  Two summers after I graduated I randomly googled the Philippines if they had a national team.  I emailed the federation and less than two months later I was playing in my first tournament for my mom's home country! I would play for the Philippines in the fall, find work in the spring, and then play in a semipro league in the summer wherever soccer called me- one summer in Jacksonville, Florida and last summer in Santa Clarita, California.  I wrote a status on Facebook how I needed a place to stay in FL and someone I had met a few months ago that worked for an international company that sponsored my Philippines team had a brother in Jax with a place I could stay.  In Cali, my coach had a filipino friend who had friend who had a friend where I could stay! And in the Philippines, I mostly stayed with some of my teammates in my coach's house! This is what my dad refers to as my gypsy life! Anyway, I continued to develop as a player and got invited to the preseason camp for the National Women's Soccer League's (NWSL) Washington Spirit.  Unfortunately, a week later I was cut.  But, I didn't stop!

This year I got invited to the Chicago Red Stars training camp.  I got to train with their team for three weeks.  I actually knew their athletic trainer because she went to school with one of my teammates from the Philippine National Team! Such a small world.  I stayed with her for duration of camp.  Last year when I was with the spirit I was more than overwhelmed.  I simply was not at the level, but I knew I could be.  I worked on my technical ability and it definitely improved.  However, at Chicago things still went over my head.  It was such a learning process though.  As player I learned a lot and was challenged day in and day out.  From a coaching perspective  I gained valuable knowledge for my future.  Not as many coaches as you think have gotten this sort of exposure.  While I am playing, I am always trying to take coaching courses and gain experience, so when that unfortunate day when I can't play competitively any more comes, I can hopefully get a job coaching. 

Shortly before I arrived at Chicago, I was offered to play for a team in Sweden.  One of my teammates from Loyola had played over there and I had been in talks with her contact.  He found me a team and I signed the contract.  I have never been to Sweden and I didn't know much about the team or the league, but this opportunity was exactly what I wanted.  I get to continue to ball (and I am actually baller status now as it is a professional contract!) and I get to travel.  What 25 year old doesn't want to be traveling and playing professional sports!?  This is exactly what I want to be doing right now and I am happy to say my journey continues!!  I will be playing for Landsbro IF and living in Vetlanda, Sweden.  I cannot wait! 









Below are some pics and links from my soccer career and I will definitely be blogging my adventures in Sweden. So stay tuned and thanks for the support!

<3,
Cookie


Already protecting myself and the ball ;)
Even my school work was about soccer
Freshman year at Leonardtown
Freshman year at Loyola
AFC Cup Qualifiers in Bangladesh after I scored the first goal against Iran
AFF Tournament in Myanmar 
Preseason Camp w/ the Chicago Redstars


Raider's Cooke has drive to succeed- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072902366.html

Cooke provides a spark for Leonardtown- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/28/AR2005092800105.html

Cooke's world- http://www.somdnews.com/article/20121120/SPORTS/711209728/1047/cooke-s-world&template=southernMaryland

‘Maldita’ runs away from Real World, meets kindred spirit- http://sports.inquirer.net/17095/‘maldita’-runs-away-from-real-world-meets-kindred-spirit

Heather Cooke:  Philippine Malditas' Jock of All trades- http://thelifeline-wvsucn.journ.ph/2012/11/03/heather-cooke-philippine-malditas-jock-of-all-trades/

Washington Spirit select six in supplemental draft- http://washingtonspirit.com/pro/washington-spirit-select-six-players-in-first-nwsl-supplemental-draft/

Red Stars announce announce 25 player preseason roster- http://chicagoredstars.com/chicago-red-stars-announce-25-player-preseason-roster/

Also, one of the people that participated in my fundraiser for my fam in the Philippines bought my national team jersey on ebay and displayed it-> http://thehistoryofwomensfootball.com/philippines.html

Lastly, my announcement with my new team in Sweden-> http://www.laget.se/LANDSBROIF_dam/News/3396008/ANNU-ETT-NYFORVARV

4 comments:

  1. Hello Cooke! I know you have no idea who I am, but I just want to congratulate you for all the achievements you had done so far cuz at some point I was like you. I used to play soccer with the boys and/or girls and practice every single night back in my country. I wanted to be a pro goalkeeper. Back then my country didn't have a national not even a city team I could join so all what I had was to play it as a hobby. When I came to USA I did tryouts in high school but I didn't make it cuz of racism even though I tried every year until I graduate. Every line I read in your post got me so excited and made me think of me and what could had happened if I was able to make it to a team. So guess what! now I'm an Electrical Engineer fun eh? I'm sure you are leaving soon to Sweden, but hopefully when you comeback we can meet up cuz i can perceive from your posts you are a sincere, genuine, adventurous, brave, charming person and will be awesome to know more about you and who knows prob one day be cool buddies since I live in Northern VA.

    Take care
    Johanna A.

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  2. Well, you know I've commented on here many times. I am so proud of you. You have continually worked hard to improve your skills and you've had the opportunity to do so many cool things out of it. I have no doubt you'll do well in Sweden. Enjoy the experience over there. Great seeing a local girl following her dreams and working for them. Well done!
    Zane

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  3. Keep pushing. Keep us posted on your experience in Sweden

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