By Hannah Rosenblatt
I love practice.
Growing up in the small town of Lincoln, Massachusetts, Saturday mornings since preschool revolved around early morning rec soccer and t-ball. Throughout my elementary and middle school years, I was always one of the smallest girls on the field, which forced me to find different ways to break defenses down. I found myself on the bubble in club soccer, never being the player the coach looked to. While I had success in my early high school soccer career, my size held me back. I was a scrawny 14-year old playing with two senior captains going to Notre Dame and Duke for lacrosse and numerous other teammates who were committed to play various sports in college.
Athletes all have doubt in the back of their minds, but the good ones are able to suppress it with their self-confidence. The doubt set into my mind, but not once did I think “maybe this just isn’t for me.” Part of me knew nothing better than to keep going because that is just what you do – that’s what I do.
Aug. 5, 2015. A 6 a.m. Beep Test greeted me. Not only was I nervous I was going to fail, I was surrounded by teammates who were strangers. I mean how was I supposed to tell the twins apart, nevermind know nearly anyone’s names. None of that mattered, all I had to do was run. It didn’t matter what was going on beside me. I had no choice but to pass.
However, it wasn’t long until I got my first reality check. First practice. First drill. I get the ball and just as I was about to pass it, Hannah Lopiccolo, the CAA Rookie of the Year, my future friend and roommate, tackles the crap out of me. I was rattled. All within a matter of hours on day one, I was back to reality. I was back to having to suppress that seed of doubt in my mind.
A quick two weeks later, we had our first regular season game. I was the first player off the bench and was thrown into right midfield, a position I had only been playing for two weeks. I was a deer in the headlights. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and it showed. The next game was the only one I never appeared in.
My sophomore year, we were searching for our first win of the season, against Providence. I started that game but was subbed out after twenty minutes and did not reenter the game until the 100-minute mark in double OT. When I was thrust back into the game I almost didn’t know why. I didn’t play well in the beginning of the game and had been watching for 80 minutes. There was that seed of doubt again.
I wasn’t warmed up and I don’t think I touched the ball for nine minutes until I found myself streaking down the left flank with seconds left, screaming for the ball. When I got the ball and drove to the goal, defenders retreated, but it was just me and the goal. No one else mattered. It was back to backyard practicing with my dad with pool noodles hung within a yard of the corners. Just as I would do in my backyard, I calmly slotted it in the back of the net.
All I remember feeling is pure joy knowing that I stepped up. It all changed for me in that moment. It wasn’t going to be like freshman year. I was no longer the freshman struggling with allowing myself to make a mistake, not wanting to take a stupid shot. There was a seed of confidence that was planted in me that game that only grew throughout the season. A PK to beat Drexel in OT, a goal in the championship en route to the CAA title. I could do no wrong.
That Providence game made me. Now I expected to step up in big moments, which made junior and senior years feel more rocky. 29 goals and nine assists later, I still ended my career with a sense of dissatisfaction. I could have helped the team more.
But then again, I’ve never been satisfied. The second you are satisfied is when you don’t care about that seed of doubt planted in your mind. You feel as though you’ve done enough. Even though I am moving on from soccer, I will take this lesson with me in everything I do. Because there will always be more goals to score.
Hannah Rosenblatt, women’s soccer
Featured image by Brian Bae.