“Varsity is a lot more physical. You have to be willing to push back.” Coach’s words echoed in my head. The varsity girls were fearless and would push themselves to take a “dub” home (win the game). This was varsity. And I wanted to be a part of it.
I always had a passion for soccer, but I didn’t have many opportunities to pursue it.
Growing up, the only time I played on a soccer team was with my younger brother. Although it was an all-boys team, I was eligible to play. It was only for one summer, and I didn’t get as much experience as I would have liked. Since it was an all-boys team, the coach didn’t pay much attention to me. Despite that, I held those memories close because I thought I wouldn’t have another chance to play. Thankfully, I was wrong.
The next time I would take the field was freshman year of high school. I was excited to join a girls soccer team for the first time in my life. We had a week of practice known as playoffs, and after training and three scrimmages I was placed in junior varsity. This was no surprise; almost every freshman was a JV player.
I was a player who knew how to dribble and somewhat control the ball. A player who wasn’t completely new but wasn’t great either — just decent. The player who knew enough to be a starter but not enough to make it to varsity. Regardless of my experience, I wasn’t satisfied with just JV.
I made it my goal to improve as much as I could to reach varsity. I wanted to prove myself not only to my coach but to my parents, as well. I knew I had the potential and skills; I just needed to overcome some barriers. For example, I was afraid of the ball. By working with myself mentally, I was able to overcome it. I was afraid of getting hurt, but I told myself repeatedly, “This is as bad as it’s going to get. It will only hurt for a moment.”
There were challenging moments when I had to admit to myself I didn’t have enough practice to do a certain skill or move, but the lack of experience did not stop me. I was willing to start from zero and work to a point where it became easy. This meant I worked on rolling the ball with the outside of my foot instead of inside; dribbling the ball without looking at it and instead looking at open teammates; and being able to send the ball across the field.
The following year I tried my hardest during the playoffs. After the three scrimmages, coach gathered all the players. We all formed a circle, waiting for our name to be called out and what team we were going to be. After what seemed forever, my name was finally called.
“Narely.” There was a small pause. “You’ll be in varsity this year.”
As soon as I heard those words I smiled from ear to ear. It only took me one season and next thing I knew, I was a sophomore on the girls varsity team. I had achieved what I was working toward.
This was a time for reflection, as well. I went from knowing almost nothing to becoming a varsity player. I was surprised at myself because I knew I was going to make it, I just never thought it would happen within one year. My determination to achieve this goal led me to work hard in a short amount of time. This also showed me how I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.