Earn a player spot on one of the professional National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) teams in the United States.
To raise at least $3,000 by March 1st for registration, transportation (i.e., gas, tolls, possible airfare, etc.), and overnight-accommodation fees to try out for at least four NWSL teams.*
I am registered to try out for the Houston Dash (Feb. 15-16), the Western New York Flash (Feb. 21-22), Portland Thorns FC (Feb. 25-26 in Downingtown, Penn.), Boston Breakers (March 1) and Sky Blue FC (March 7-8).
*I will keep costs down as much as possible. After the tryouts are done, I will use any leftover money for moving and other expenses if I do earn a spot on a team. If I do not make one of the teams, I will donate any remaining money to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
My Story and the Story I'm Choosing to Create
The last few months have been an internal mind battle for me, but I have decided that enough is enough. I am good enough. I am better than enough, and if I do not follow my heart's passion to play the sport that I love at a competitive level, I know I will always be held down by fear and regret.
Two years ago, I trained very hard to try out for the U.S. Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league. I found an amazing gym, Major League Fitness, located in my hometown of Fenton, Michigan. My coach, Coach Keith, helped me shatter all of my perceived strength and fitness limits to increase my overall confidence and skill as an athlete. I learned Olympic lifting, improved remarkably in technique and strength in my powerlifting, and learned basic gymnastic skills to feel connection throughout my body--a skill I was definitely not taught much about up until that point in life. My awareness as an athlete went up tenfold. It has improved more since. I was ready to go! I was registered to try out for the Atlanta Beat. Airline ticket and hotel accommodations were set. On the day I was signing up for the Western New York Flash tryouts, I read the news that the league had been suspended due to a lawsuit with a franchise owner. My heart sank. Everything I worked so hard for was slipping away. I still had hope until I received a call from an Atlanta Beat representative telling me that the tryouts were canceled. More sadness sank in. I followed WPS news closely for the next month or so until I read that the league had folded and would not be coming back. More disappointment.
One year after, in the start of the 2013 new year, came the birth of a new women's league, the NWSL. There are currently eight teams in the NWSL.
Pushing Through Fear
Back in November, just a few short months ago, I told myself and others that I was going to follow my heart and try out for professional soccer this year. Instead of beginning to train, I let fear set in and control my every thought and action. I started focusing on all of the "I can't's" instead of all of the "I can's." I could mention all of the reasons to why I believed why I can't, but those truly are not important to my mission now.
For too long I focused on my sadnesses and disappointments in life. Sure, there are many, but I also have had a lot of awesome experiences. Awesome experiences that I worked my butt off for and put my full heart into. I've always had my strength (mentally and physically), gifted athletic ability, and soccer talent on my side. Through all of my down times in life, working out and testing my mental and physical capabilities has pulled me through my most trying struggles. This work ethic trickles down into my school studies and my integrity in the workplace as well.
There are accomplishments of mine I am proud of but can say with a true and authentic voice that weren't/aren't mine. I believe this is true for many of us. I went to college, then had a good-paying job for a bank, was laid off so decided to go to grad school, and finished grad school while working many meaningless, life-sucking jobs. But I don't truly believe that those choices/accomplishments were made with my full heart and best interest. I was listening to what other people told me I "should do." Perhaps this is the fault of my own, but how common is this story? Many people get on track to do something, and 20 years down the road have no idea who they are and how they got to where they are. I know this: I am 28, on the verge of turning 29, have had my ups and downs, have struggled to find meaning in work (Side note: I have worked for a lot of shitty people--to the employers, managers, and friends I know who work with integrity and don't put money over people/relationships, I honor and respect you. Thank you for "keepin' it real" in business.), but I still have my athletic talent. It doesn't go away. It's not meant to leave me. It is me. Through and through.
Most of my "bad" situations/happenings are part of a story that I don't believe I was taking responsibility for. I won't use the word "control" because too many of us try to control what we cannot. All of this, all of the good and the bad, has brought me to this moment. Right now. Pretty cool. Writing this, feeling the fear, but listening to it to know that it really does not exist. I know that all of the negativity in my life has come from outside sources. I am alive. I am breathing. And each time I touch a soccer ball I come to life and see all of the vast opportunities in front of me.
Soccer: My Life, My Game
I started playing soccer when I was 7-years-old after my parents told me I could not play hockey. I saw kids playing one day, and thought, "Hey, that looks like fun!" Plus, soccer pretty much is hockey positionally, but without the ice, with a larger surface-playing area, and with the use of feet and a ball instead of a stick and a puck. Thus the reason why so many hockey players also play soccer. I was a natural. I scored goals upon goals in the AYSO (American Soccer Soccer Organization) league. I didn't realize at the time what a huge influence soccer would play in my life and how it would guide me through all of life's journeys: to My Destiny.
After a couple of years of playing AYSO, I joined a club team named La Forza in our local area. The teams I played for were okay, but I often got frustrated as I was used as a goalkeeper because of my strong athletic ability. I wanted to play up front and do what I loved to do: score goals. Up until high school age, I struggled with accepting that I was on this club team, and as the youngest of six children, my parents could not afford, nor did they have the time, to take me to a metropolitan area to get on a better club team. I often fought this with spite at those young ages, but I pushed through, and by the time high school came, I had my driver's license. So I found a club team in Ann Arbor, Michigan and played for them. The soccer was better, but I was so behind in technique and tactical skills that were not taught to me, nor developed, during my younger ages. During this time, two coaches came into my life who helped me tremendously. Their names are John and Judy Trecha. I worked with them during any available time I had in my schedule. I dedicated my time and my life to getting better. I focused my life on the game. They opened my eyes and helped me improve in so many of my soccer skills and abilities. They believed in me. In fact, Judy strongly encouraged me to try out professionally once she heard U.S. women's pro soccer was making a comeback. She is my most influential soccer coach to this day, and I am so grateful for the faith she placed in me.
I continued working with John and Judy throughout college, and they helped me flourish back into a true goal scorer and leader on my Northern Michigan University (NMU) Wildcats team. At NMU I hold the all-time scoring and points' records. I thank my teammates and friends who helped me achieve this great accomplishment. Without them, it would not have been possible, and without them, we also, to this day, would not have had the best team that NMU ever produced in history. We broke many records individually and as a team. I am proud of them, and I am grateful for the player they helped me become.
Life In-Between and the Here and Now
Life has happened in-between my time from college to now. I took "jobs" because I was told it was what I "should do," and I had a fear of not being able to support myself financially. My siblings and I paid our way through college and life after. Quite honestly, trying to do what others have told me I should do, does not work. (Side note: I currently live with my parents rent-free, and I am grateful for this as my babysitting and dogsitting wages don't pay the bills. And let's just say that Sally Mae and I are not on good speaking terms.) Through all of this time I have continued to be an athlete and play soccer on whatever leagues are available to me--this includes driving 45 minutes to an hour away from my current living location to play on better-quality soccer teams in larger cities. I need more than this, though. I crave and miss competitive soccer! I want to be challenged by the best of the best. I want to be the best player I know I can be at my sport, and the only way to do this is to learn from the best players out there, playing professionally.
So here I am. With this dream. My soccer dream I have had since I was a little girl. No longer filled with the negative self-talk and no longer affected by the negative people who always have an excuse to say why someone "cannot." I am doing what I love this time around. Perhaps clichÃ© to say, but we get this one life, this one body, to create a beautiful story that is our OWN. No one can take this away from us. No one. They may try to drag us through the dirt, but they can never kill our spirit. I love myself and soccer more than enough to go for this. SO I AM!
Thank you for your monetary donation. I am so grateful to have you in my life--all of you who believe in me and believed in me even when I could not believe in myself--in my darkest hours. Every person I have crossed paths with in my life, negatively or positively, has taught me valuable lessons to make me who I am today.
You are contributing more than money. You are contributing to a dream, a life-long goal, a story that is blossoming into creation!
THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
-Watch Goal!, the movie, directed by Danny Cannon
-Also, watch this video about U.S. Olympian and World Champion, Evelyn Stevens, Why We Play: http://youtu.be/xkqN-10EBnw
- Karen Gruener
- Katie Alcini
- Stephanie Foster
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