How playing soccer helped me set goals and build lifelong memories
by Elizabeth Bolland
As a parent, you know the feeling of having your back seat packed full with kids: one holding the bags of carrots for the halftime snack, one complaining that they need to go to the bathroom, and one taking in the scenery out the window and prepping for the upcoming soccer game. I might have looked like that child mentally preparing for the game, but really I was only interested in the halftime snack.
Before you know it, your kids will no longer need your help pulling up their socks, filling up their water bottles, or doing their hair. Time flies, and you can only sit on the sidelines and watch your children play for a limited amount of time. Here’s a tip: enjoy the pop-up chairs because you may soon find yourself sitting on hard metal bleachers at high school and college games.
I remember looking over to the sidelines and seeing the large camera tripod set up at the opposite corner of the field. Yes, that was my dad. He made sure that he captured every moment and never missed a shot that ended up in the back of the net. I often wondered if his legs got tired of standing the whole game, but he wanted to make sure he could see what was going on at all times. I miss the long car rides with him—reviewing every play in the game, hearing suggestions for the next training sessions, and eating at Noodles & Company.
I wasn’t introduced to club soccer until my sophomore year in high school when I was fortunate to run into the right people and my goalkeeping career took off. At age 15 I needed to learn the ropes quickly because I found myself placed with a U18 women’s team on the club that I had joined the day before.
I didn’t have my license yet, so my parents hauled me an hour away four times a week to train with the best of the best. My small town did not have the opportunity to support a club team, so I made the choice to travel to get the training that I wanted. I made a goal for myself—I wanted to play college soccer—so I also met with a goalkeeping coach on the weekends to go over my weaknesses and work on my strengths.
With hard work and a lot of dedication, I achieved my goal and committed to play Division I soccer at Creighton University in Omaha. After a year and a half I decided to pursue a different university to focus on my education and continue my soccer career. This is when I joined the Miami University women’s soccer team.
At both my universities, the college athletes are given one-on-one advising and priority registration, an outstanding locker room that is stocked with food, free gear, the opportunity to earn a scholarship, a lifting coach, free tutoring, and many other perks.
College soccer not only gave me the opportunity to continue my soccer career after high school, but it taught me many life lessons along the way. It had its ups and downs, but I would never trade the experiences that I had for anything. The relationships you build with your teammates come naturally when you sweat, cry, and laugh together every morning at 7 a.m.
This winter, after many long conversations with my parents and lots of thought, I decided to focus on my education and begin coaching this spring.
My soccer career took me to two different universities, all around the world, and introduced me to some amazing people who I have the honor of calling my best friends. Soccer was my passion and it drove me to be the best person that I could be.