Last Updated 17 Mar 2023

A Personal Account of the Development of My Leadership Skills and the Role of Soccer in It

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Growing up, I never envisioned myself as a leader. I struggled a bit in my early years of school, and I felt more comfortable as the invisible kid rather than the center of attention. However, as I became more involved with several activities in school, it was easier for me to become part of the team and even gave me the courage to occasionally lead. The familiarity of coming back to the same people or the mere concept of people doing something they all loved helped me blossom.

Before I joined my school’s soccer team, soccer already held significance in my family. My brothers grew up playing soccer, and many people referred to them as carbon copies of my father, a man who absolutely loved the sport and almost played it professionally in Mexico, before he chose to come to the United States with my mother. My family expected me to follow the family tradition, so when 1 was 14,1 started playing soccer. I initially struggled with learning to play a sport that I always watched. The constant comparisons to my younger brothers bothered me, even though I did not show their effect on me. I worked through the struggles, and I found myself playing on the Junior Varsity team freshman year.

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My dad never fully supported me in soccer, and when I would strike up a conversation about how well my practice went, he fought our conversation with a question to my brother about his practice. I started viewing soccer with frustration, but 1 had simultaneously learned to love it. An extremely influential person at that time in my life was my coach. He cared about me and motivated me when my parents wouldn't, and for that I am forever grateful. I remember when he and the team chose me as the team captain that year. I felt shocked and overwhelmed. I had always been the sister of the soccer players; I was never the captain of the team. My teammates told me that they viewed me as a leader.

My shouts of encouragement motivated them and they believed I had the skill to carry myself on the team. That season was perhaps one of the most memorable. We were a new Junior Varsity team and we played some of the hardest schools in our area. I struggled a bit in leading the girls at the beginning, but with effort and dedication, it soon felt like second nature. Leading the practices, thinking out plays, and interpreting those plays on the field became easy for me, and with hope and determination, we finished our season with a win. Becoming a leader in a competitive sport can be a crazy and scary task - you are put in a tough position where decisions have to be made, and you're the one to make them, but it can also be one of the most rewarding things.

All the hard work my team gave was obvious during the tough and freezing district games, and a desire to play soccer from the girls was all I asked for. During that season, I learned that the hardest thing to do as a team is to play as a team. At times, people forget to play for each other and instead play for themselves. It might have been that idea that fueled my apprehension to lead the team at the beginning. Luckily, I, along with the team, was proven wrong, because we were true team members playing for each other on and off the field.

The experience as team captain rewarded me with many things. I became more confident in my soccer skills, as well as in myself. Though it may not seem correlative to some, the practice and work I used on the soccer field also motivated me in the classroom. Soccer plays, math equations, and writing essays all quickly became important aspects of my life. I realized that I had so much potential to be a leader that my captain position motivated me to expose myself to other unknowns. I became captain of my academic decathlon team, and I held a leadership position in Student Council.

The knowledge I attained as captain applied to the other activities and organizations I involved myself in, and I completely believe that freshman soccer is one of the reasons I strive for academic challenges. My goals to attend one of the best public universities in the nation and to achieve the highest GPA were huge challenges that I decided to begin tackling when 1 was a freshman. I knew that although soccer and school are unlike in many ways, they share the underlying factor of challenges. Being a captain and overcoming challenges on the field only pushed me to challenge myself in school, as well as in the world around me. The extra steps I have taken to ensure myself a promising future became a reality thanks to the screams of encouragement from Coach Smith and my team, and without them, I do not believe I would have become the person that I am today.

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