I used to play soccer. I don’t mean that lightly, there were many years in my life where my world revolved around the sport that I loved. Summers were spent at practice 3-4 days a week, at camps and commuting to tournaments all over the place.
Soccer is where I found some of my truest friends. Soccer also allowed me to travel to new places and share the sport I love with girls that hadn’t ever played before. Long story short, this sport is and was one of the defining factors of my life.
Knowing all that, why was last week the first time I had played soccer in Ukraine? That’s a tale that starts long before Ukraine, and I’m glad you asked. Buckle up folks, it’s a bumpy ride.
I started playing soccer when I was about three years old. You know, beehive soccer where everyone just runs after the ball. My mom was my coach and she would continue to challenge me for the next eight years. My family would head down to Mexico to help organize soccer camps most summers.
When I was like 10 or 11, I started playing club soccer. That was another level and it’s where I had many adventures and met some incredible people.
My family started going to Cambodia when I was 12, but the first soccer trips wouldn’t come for a couple more years. From age 14 to when I was 17, I spent time in Cambodia. I ran soccer camps, coached teams, taught English and played in exhibition matches with girls all over the country.
When I started looking at colleges, soccer was something pretty far back on the list of priorities. I was good, but I wasn’t THAT good. It just wasn’t a focus for me at the time, I knew what I wanted to study and what I wanted to get out of my college experience and playing soccer wasn’t near the top of the list. I’ve thought about how my college experience would have been different if I had pursued that more, but I don’t regret anything. I played intramurals and had a blast at school.