Being a 17-year-old (closing in on 18) female soccer player with aspirations of going where few go before, opportunities are limited. The quote, "you have to want it more than you want to breathe" is an accurate description of one of the tools you need to go the next level.
When I was about 12, I figured out that soccer wasn't just a hobby, it was a passion. The constant yearning to be better, to train harder, and to get stronger has never ceased since that day.
"Good things come to those who wait, but better things come to those who go out and get them." This quote, this ideology is one that you MUST acquire if you're looking to play that next level. There is no way, no matter how good you are, that opportunities at that caliber will appear seemingly from nowhere. At 16, I tried out professionally for the Houston Aces. SIXTEEN PEOPLE. Did I just go to club training and say that was good enough for me? NO WAY. I put in countless hours and touches to make sure I was where I needed to be for that try-out. Unfortunately, I pulled my hamstring in that try-out (there is no such thing as too much stretching, trust me), yet impressed enough to be put through to the second round. Second round of try-outs I was still 16, and nursing my hamstring back to health. At this point, I am sixteen going against COLLEGE SOCCER PLAYERS with a bum hamstring, and I go through to third round try-outs. I was very blessed to be able to spend six months as a 16/17 year old training with college and pro players, gaining top notch experience. I also featured in 75 minutes of 90 playing against the aces first team with Houston south select, at merely 17 years old.
Fast forward to early January 2014, where the Houston Dash announce open try-outs on February 15th. I had previously been training extra outside, but now I knew I had to step it up. Aces really prepared me for this, because I came in knowing the speed I would be expected to play at, the technical skills that I would have to sharpen, and the physical and mental sharpness I needed. When training, you have to be aware of your body's needs. When I say body, I mean body, not head. Your head will tell you so many skewed things while you're pushing yourself, but if your body is like 'yeah Kylie, might want to take it down a notch your hamstring is a bit tight today' you have to listen. Training also isn't about how much weight you're lifting or the miles you run, but it's how you strengthen everything together. Mondays I do yogalates (the yoga + Pilates love child, if you will), Tuesdays and Thursdays I pick up extra training sessions with the u14 boys at my club, Wednesdays are rest days (father daughter dinner dates, family matters) and after dinner I may spend 2 hours in the gym getting touches in, Fridays I'm supporting my best friend as he plays high school soccer, Saturday knee & ankle strengthening while watching absolutely any match I can get my hands on, and Sunday rest day with some light ab/ ball work.
The week previous to the tryout I am feeling it, really feeling it. I sort of psyched myself up a bit in the beginning, but then I was able to calm down after reminding myself this would be like aces in some aspects. During the week, I'm taking care of my body making sure everything is coexisting peacefully. Friday night (Valentines Day, aka long waits at Italian restaurants, how convenient) rolls around, and I carb up in anticipation for the next days festivities. ALWAYS BE PREPARED WITH THE ULTIMATE PREGAME PLAYLIST. The majority of athletes rely on music to get their blood pumping, and I am no different. ***Flawless by Beyoncé at least 4 different times en route to HASP got me going and focused. Upon arrival, I noticed several familiar faces from the Aces tryout and organization from the year prior. A majority of girls I had played with and was able to keep up with I would be trying out with. We played 7v7, 9v9, and 11v11 for evaluations. It was very enjoyable to play that pace again, and I was satisfied with my performance.
So here I am, a little under 2 days from my 18th birthday, writing this for all the girls just like me. For the girls who want more than just club, more than just high school, more than just college. In my (comparatively few) years, here are the key points I've picked up:
1. There will always be someone better than you, accept it & don't let it get you down. However, work harder to make that number smaller.
2. People are going to put down your dreams, but it's pretty rad to see their faces when you're successful.
3. Support other people's dreams. It's totally uncool when someone has put down yours, don't be that someone.
4. Make decisions that are right for you personally as a player. If it's time to move clubs, then move.
5. The extra hours you put in will always show. ALWAYS.
6. Practice how you play. Your coaches/trainers/parents have beat this into you, and guess what? THEY'RE RIGHT. If you mess around during practice, then it shows that weekend (and sometimes in front of that college coach)
7. Watch professional soccer. Any league, any time. Old matches, recent matches, all of it helps. I can guarantee very very female soccer players are. It will almost always improve the way you play and your thought process.
8. Pick up practices with the guys. Between boys & girls soccer there is a huge difference. Your technical skills, among other things, will go through the roof.
9. Stay away from drugs/alcohol/sex. I have seen countless players completely ruin themselves due to these things.
10. Surround yourself with positive people. The human brain processes about 1300 thoughts a minute, don't let those minutes be spent negatively.
11. You are a STUDENT-athlete. Get your work done and keep your grades up, you are not more special than the regular student.
12. Stay humble. Stay grounded. Never forget where you came from and what you've gone through to be where you are.
13. NEVER EVER EVER let someone get down on you because you are young, a baby shark is still a shark.
14. You are BLESSED to be able to do what you do, don't forget to pay it back & thank Him who gave it to you.
15. People will be watching you. They will see your twitter/Instagram/Facebook/vine, etc. You are openly and actively pursuing dreams that very few do, that attracts attention. People will look up to you & will support you.
I can come up with so much more, but these are what I can pull from the top of my head at the moment. I hope this little blurb gave at least a little bit of insight for you.
I'm on twitter @kaustinsoccer if you have any questions, comments, concerns (hopefully nothing I wrote is that concerning), or anything of the nature I'll be happy to address it.
Also, a MASSIVE thank you to everyone at Dynamo Theory for supporting my career and I, and allowing me to write this and such.
No dreamer is ever too small; no dream ever too big