There are three frogs on a log. One decides to leave. How many are left?
I’ll give you a hint: The answer is not two.
The other night six other pro players and I put on a Train With The Pros clinic at SDA Clifton, New Jersey. It was a fun time, with a great group of kids from a variety of age groups and levels. At the end we did a Q&A, and the last question that was asked was, “What does it take to be a pro?”
I was genuinely blown away and inspired by the six other answers as my fellow coaches for the night weighed in. The overwhelming sentiment was that being a pro requires a deep love and appreciation for the game and an enormous amount of work and commitment over a long period of time. Not once was talent mentioned, or a specific skill set. After all, the group standing up there had all started playing at different times in our lives, had different youth experiences, went to different colleges, and all have had vastly different journeys as pros up until this point. Yet, the same theme rang true in everyone’s commentary. There’s a passion for what you’re doing that is required to make this sport your profession, or to achieve any lofty goal or vision in life for that matter.
After the clinic, I sat for a bit with a player I had worked with about four years ago in the D.C. area and her parents. My first-ever soccer mentor and an early coach of mine who now owns the facility where the clinic was held, Ashley Hammond, joined the conversation. I deferred to him to provide advice to this family, because most of what set me along the way in my personal soccer journey had come from Ashley, so why not let them go straight to the source?
Ashley pointed out to this teenage player that “there is no traffic on the extra mile.” I was immediately reminded of how true that is. As a youth player, I was very much a loner. I wasn’t aware at the time of anyone else my age who was as serious as I was about almost anything (except for my middle school best friend’s intense love of The Backstreet Boys). I was very cautious of any distractions that might detract from pursuing my goal to become a professional player and certainly did not feel understood by my peers, even my club teammates for the most part.
But while the extra mile can be lonely, I eventually found company along the way. It started in college at the University of North Carolina, where I first met a group of ferociously competitive and dedicated young women just like me. And since that point, I have had the luxury of being surrounded by players from all over the world who share my passion and understanding for what it means to embark on a journey that requires incredible risk and sacrifice—mentally, physically, and emotionally.
So Ashley asked this player:
“There are three frogs on a log. One decides to leave. How many are left?”
The correct answer is three. Deciding to do something is fine, but actually doing it is a whole ‘nother beast.
There’s no traffic on the extra mile because despite all the people who decide to take it, not many actually do.