“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think that you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now, and now is right on time.” ― Asha Tyson
MONTCLAIR, N.J. — My most recent mental struggle has been to accept the above concept in full. I love the sport I play, but women’s soccer is a tough career path. There is a lot of uncertainty and it seems that too often I’ve been faced with the question: What now?
After the 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer season ended …what now? After I decided to play with the Atlanta Beat and then received the news that there would be no W.P.S. in 2012 … what now? After spending a month in Europe with Russian club Rossiyanka … what now?
So, what now? I’ve decided to use the summer to regroup, mentally and physically, and slowly work to answer this question. In the past, there have been deadlines on my decisions. I was especially rushed in my decision to head to Moscow to join Rossiyanka for the quarterfinal of Champions League. I was gone for roughly a month and do not regret going, but over all it was not a positive experience.
I joined the club when there was a lot going on behind the scenes, none of which I knew about. A French coaching staff had recently taken over and made changes that were not taken well by some of the Russian staff and players. Kia McNeill, Leigh Ann Robinson and I were brought in by the French coach to help strengthen the team as it prepared to face Germany’s Potsdam in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. The Russian members of the staff (I think) assumed that we were signed by the coach and were his responsibility.
We were caught in the middle of a political battle that resulted in a logistical nightmare. We never knew our schedule and were woken up prematurely more than once because we were supposed to be at a meeting or leaving for training. Our laundry never seemed to get washed and would be left in a dirty heap, while our teammates’ was clean and folded.
There were issues getting us an apartment to stay in, and we had trouble finding enough food and water to be hydrated and nourished to perform on the field. After staying in nine hotels, taking six flights, and spending numerous hours in buses and vans, on top of often having no idea where we were going or what was happening, it became hard to focus on fútbol. The life of a professional athlete is already physically taxing and stressful, but these additional strains really wore on my mind and body.
While I was disappointed that we didn’t have a better performance and result against Potsdam, I couldn’t have been happier when my plane landed at J.F.K. airport in New York. But once the relief wore off, my eager mind once again brought up the infamous question: What now?
Now it’s time to step back and reflect. I need a rest from what, at times, has seemed like an uphill battle, but I am in no way giving up. If anything, I am doing what I think is necessary to build the strength to fight harder and do more to become the player that I think I can be. I plan to play for a local W.P.S.L. or W-League team for the summer and use the time to thoroughly explore my options.
My journey has certainly not taken me the route that I had imagined. Going to Russia and back verified that for me. But whether it be mental toughness or just plain old stubbornness, I still have full belief that I have something special to offer on and off the field and that I can establish myself as one of the best midfielders in the women’s game.