Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Start Of It All..

Hey Everyone!

I am starting this blog so all my family, friends, coaches, players, community, fans, or pretty much WHOEVER can follow me as I begin my journey as a professional soccer player in Brazil.

For those of you who do not know me or know what I have been up to I will begin by sharing some personal information so you can get the gist of how this all began.

I have been playing soccer since the 5th grade. I played on Varsity all four years at Schaumburg High School. I went to Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for my first year and a half of college. I obviously went there for soccer. I transferred back and went to Harper Community College for the completion of my second year of college. At that time, I was really unsure if I wanted to continue to play soccer at such a competitive level. I decided I would go to Western Illinois University, play for the club team, and go back to playing for fun. After my first tryout at the club team I thought that it could be frustrating because I knew my level of play and competition level was different since I have already had the experience to play at a D2 school where we made it into NCAA tournament my freshman year. That is when I decided to contact the WIU Women's Head Coach, Tony Guinn, a man who has changed my life in so many ways, for the better. I met with him, the assistant coach, Jason Cherry, another man who has changed my life for the better, and the WIU tennis coach. Eventually they offered me to come tryout. I was pretty much out of shape and the first practice/tryout I attended must have been FITNESS day because they were running sprints, monster runs, and small scrimages. If you lost a small-sided game you were running. But after another tryout or two, I was asked to join the team so I must have done something right! I was ecstatic. I had to sit out the first year because of NCAA rules on transferring, but I busted my ass to be fit.  After practices I would go to the gym. It was hard, though, to just practice and never be able to play a game. My two seasons that I was able to play in were two great seasons. Our team went to the Final Four both seasons and my senior season we made it to the championship game, but unfortunately lost to NDSU 1-3. It was devastating and still to this day hate talking about that game. My years at WIU were some of the best years of my life. I could not be more grateful to have had the coaching staff we did and to have played with such amazing individuals who were not only my teammates, but my bestfriends, my family. We went through a lot together. One in particular, our coach's son, Shaymus Guinn, found out he has cancer so it has been an on going battle, but that boy is one of the strongest people I have ever met. He makes you want to play harder everytime you step on the field. I truly believe he is what motivated us to do so well. There is no doubt that I will bring Shay's inspriation and stength with me to Brazil.

Once I finished my last season at WIU, I still had a spring semester of classes to finish up and the following fall semester to student teach. That summer my coach Diego Cevallos (Judson Womens Head Coach/CL FORCE club coach), again, mentioned to me about soccer. I told him now that I am finished up at school I needed to focus on my priorties, which were work & student teaching. His response, "Soccer is a priority." Very true. He had me there. I ended up playing again that summer for Crystal Lake Force and he again mentioned something about playing professionally. At one of our summer games, Dan Quinn, another coach of the CL Force, coached for our team, since Diego has two teams he coaches. Dan asked me as well about continuing my play. Now this was two people who mentioned something about playing at the next level. That is when I really started thinking about it. It motivated me more that others thought I could play so that is when Dan asked me to send me a BIO about where I played and such. He said he has a contact who is from Brazil, Ewerton, who is also another coach for CL Force. They said I probably wouldn't hear anything til after winter break, but to continue to stay in shape, for they can call any day. Diego was kind enough to let me come train in the fall with his high school club teams. This was sometimes not an easy task. I was student teaching in the the Fall, which for those of you who have student taught, it takes over your life. I was teaching M-F, and going to training 3 days a week, which was in Crystal Lake. So to get there on time I had to leave an hour earlier because of traffic. Before/After training or on days I didn't have training, including weekends, I literally felt like I lived at the Schaumburg Library. I was drained day in and out, but was so motivated because I wanted this. I think I fell in love with the game all over again because by winter time, I was playing more soccer and working out more then I ever have during college. I could not get enough. I am pretty sure some people were wondering why I was working out so much. I told some people I was trying to play over seas but I did not want to say too much because I did not know for sure.

In December, my good friend and teammate, Katie Condon, told me about this winter training for college athletes to stay in shape over break that was at Soccer City in Palatine. Greg Mehr and Bonnie Young ran the sessions, two really great coaches. After the girls sessions were over, since they went back to school, there were still guy trainings that I attended, ran by Brett Hall. They were very intense and I was so intimidated the first few times going, but were so worth it.

It was January by this time and I had e-mailed Dan and asked Diego if they have heard any further information about Brazil.Then I received my first e-mail from Ewerton letting me know that he is working on details and he will contact me. I believe it was the end of January when I received a phone call from Diego to come to his training session out at RSC in CL to train and meet with Ewerton about Brazil. He wanted to see me play and then can discuss more details with Kleiton Lima, the Brazil National Coach, who is Ewerton's connection, about getting me over to play. I had done this twice and received a little bit of information each time. I was patient, but really impatient, cause I just wanted to know already!

At this time, I was working for the Schaumburg Park District, as a Counselor for the Kasper Before/Afterschool Program. Time had passed and I hadn't heard anything for about a month so I went through days where I was like "well maybe it wont happen" or "he said he would call" and I even was about to e-mail Ewerton just to get a follow up. I was playing indoor leagues about 3-4 times a week during this time too. I figured since I haven't heard for anything, I was going to apply for a paraprofessional position my friend Christy told me about and put my education to use. I ended up not getting the position Christy mentioned, but I recevied a paraprofessional position in the same district but at the middle school. Friday, March 17th, I received a phone called from the principal asking if I was interested. I gave her a call back, went in for an interview, and was hired all on that Friday. I was ECSTATIC! I could not believe I received this call, especially since I was bummed about the previous position. I started that Tuesday, since Monday was President's Day. That Thursday, during lunch, I checked my phone and had missed calls and texts from both Diego and Ewerton. I was like "oh my god!" They told me to come out to training again to discuss some more information about the opportunity to play in Brazil and to talk with Kleiton and Caitie, the other American there. So I went there, played a bit, and then talked to Caitie about the opportunity itself, her experience, etc. I was in shock and barely asked any questions and was kind of just taking it all in. He then told me about the opportunity and that I would go for 3 months and they want me there by March 10th (there was more to that conversation but I am already writing a novel so moving on.. lol). So I told some of my family and a few friends. Sunday my mom, sister, and brother-in-law, came with me to meet Ewerton and his wife to discuss the opportunity fully, answer any questions and CONCERNS, and all other details. After we left there, it was a for sure thing. I was going but it was a matter of getting everything I needed to get taken care of done, which was a lot since we are on a time constraint here! I think from Sunday til now I have had at least a hundred heart attacks and have ate everything under the sun due to the stress I have been under.

So this is how it all happened. I think I just wrote a novel, which is so unlike me. I rarely share this much information with people.. ask my family!!

But I am extremely excited and nervous and every emotion in between that! I appreciate all the motivation, inspirtation, kind words and support from everyone. I plan on updating this as often as I can, starting obviously now and then throughout my experience. I hope this motivates and inspires others to follow their dreams and to never give up.

"Dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them."