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!
|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-