DURHAM, N.C.-- In my senior spring semester, I have found myself in unfamiliar territory – boredom. For the first time since I can remember, I am no longer juggling sports and academics. Despite working on the completion of my degree in psychology and an impending graduation from Duke, I have more free time on my hands than I know what to do with.
Naturally, that’s what happens when I’ve spent the majority of my life as a student-athlete. I became very accustomed to late-night bus rides home while cramming for the next day’s exam, rushing off to practices every night of the week and using any spare time available to complete my school work. Fortunately for me, this lifestyle became second nature to me even before I stepped on Duke’s campus.
Basketball became an early and obvious love. My dad and older siblings all played the sport. I joined an AAU basketball team early on and competed at a high level. Once high school came around, it became clear that despite my love for the sport, my small frame would hold me back from competing at the collegiate level. I couldn’t imagine not playing a sport in college, so I decided to focus my attention on playing soccer at the college level.
It was sophomore year and I was a little behind in the recruiting process. Most players had already been in touch with college coaches and some even closing in on verbal commitments. I hadn’t even been playing on the best club soccer team in my state, so no one really knew who I was.
But for me, the decision to play soccer in college wasn’t as simple as joining whatever team would take me on. Academics were actually more important to me than playing soccer and it was my dream to find a school that had both. With both of my older sisters having attended Duke, the trek to North Carolina was a natural choice for me, so that following summer, I attended the Duke soccer camp in hopes of getting the attention of the coaching staff.
After completing camp, I returned back home focused and excited. I spent the next few years keeping up communication with the Duke coaching staff in the hopes of convincing them I was good enough to be a part of for the team. By my senior year, I had convinced our coaches to take a chance on me, however they told me not to expect minutes on the field during my time at Duke. I was determined to prove them wrong.
Throughout my four years, there were obviously some ups and downs, but overall I couldn’t have dreamed of a better college experience and soccer career. My freshman year was difficult at times, but I believed in myself when no one else did and I just kept fighting until I got on the field. By October of my freshmen year, I became a starter for the remainder of my entire career.
Playing in the National Championship game my junior year was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. This year, our team was ready to win it all, but we lost in an emotional game to Penn State in the Elite Eight. It would’ve been the cherry on top of the cake had we won it all like we knew we could these past two years, but I wouldn’t trade my experience on this team for anything. Our program is really unlike any other. I’m so close with the girls on my team – they feel like my sisters. Really every single person involved with this program feels like family. We have the World’s best coaching staff, and they too feel like my third, fourth, and fifth parents. The Duke women’s soccer program has come to be my second family and because of them, I was never once homesick throughout my four years.
This semester, it has been very evident that the relationships I have made with all the people in the program will follow me wherever I go. I have already accepted a position with Wells Fargo in New York City after graduation. Both of my sisters live there and I am eager to join them. However, with graduation drawing nearer, most tell me it’s easy to hear the trepidation in my voice over leaving behind my other group of sisters, my teammates. This program has been the best thing about these past four years. These girls are my best friends.