Offseason Thoughts: Is it worth it? Let me work it.

The last time I wrote, I was living and playing in Sweden and we had just clinched a spot in Damallsvenkan for 2017. Since then a lot has happened. Let me fill you in quick.

I decided not to return to Kvarnsvedens IK for next year. It was a great opportunity to play at a high level and a good reminder that the end of something can often times be the beginning of something else. 

I took two weeks off from soccer and went on vacation. I can’t emphasize enough how important that is for mental and physical health. I always learn so much from the Swedes about how important rest is. In case you were wondering, in Sweden it is mandatory that workers take their five weeks paid vacation. 

After my vacation, I came home and eased back into training. And adjusted to the winter that is my lovely home state of Connecticut. 

I turned 33 a few weeks ago. Which was a major milestone in my life because if you face the threes to each other it actually makes an 8. So, that’s cool.

I’ve read a few books including Little Victories by Jason Gay and The Talent Code. I’m currently reading The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. 

I don’t live the most exciting life at home. When I’m home it’s time to train, and get ready for the upcoming season. It’s the offseason, which means that I’m able to make strides in my development as a player that I couldn’t make in season. 

I watch as many games as I can on TV. I have strength training 3x a week. I have some running and technical sessions outside in temperatures worthy of “arctic blast” labeling. I play futsal with a bunch of talented current and former college guys. I train with a U18 boys team once a week. I obsess about every meal, how long my naps are and making sure I never leave my cleats in my car overnight. It’s a lot. But I won’t complain about it. I never do. Why?

Because I love it. 

I see a lot of articles about players who are retiring or have retired because of meager salaries offered for female athletes in soccer. I agree, the salaries suck and if you’re not 100 percent obsessed with and in love with soccer, it’s probably not going to be worth it to fight through. I know a lot of players though, who have, over the years, done much more than fought through in order to do what they love every day; they have thrived. 

In addition to the training many of us do in the offseason, we also have to supplement our playing incomes. By supplement I mean, we have to find ways to make just as much money in the offseason as we do in season. It’s no easy task, but if you ask players who continue to do it year after year if it’s worth it, they will say it is every single time. 

If you are looking for some of these players, who despite not making hundreds of thousands of dollars playing the professional sport they dreamed of, currently are thriving, here are some that come to mind:

Yael Averbuch (Age: 30): Going into her 9th year as a professional player. Has organized camps and clinics all over the country. Started an online training app for players called Techne Futbol which puts a training program literally in the palms of our hands. Thriving. 

Brittany Taylor (Age: 29): Going into her 7th year as a professional player. She has been coaching with Quickstrike FC (youth soccer club in New York) since 2008 and is going into her third year as the Girls’ Director of Coaching. Thriving. 

Joanna Lohman (Age: 34): Going into her 13th year as a professional. She is an trainer and mentor, working with players on and off the field, a professional public speaker (she did a TED Talk), and is a Sport Diplomat. Her personal website is Thriving. 

Amanda Da Costa (Age: 27): Going into her 7th year as a professional player. She has been doing individual soccer training and writing for many years. Started her own company called Advantage Trainer for players to become masters of the ball. Thriving.

Nicole Barnhart (Age: 35): Going into her 8th year as a professional player (not including ten years of being with the USWNT). Started her own goalkeeper academy called Nicole Barnhart Goalkeeping. Thriving. 

There are many more who fall into this category. These are just a few. They have two, sometimes three jobs. It’s pretty normal these days to have more than one job. I know tons of people who aren’t professional soccer players who have two jobs. Some days they go right from one job to the next with hardly a break. It’s life man. 

To quote the famous I have no clue who said it, “You got to do what you got to do.” 

I’m entering my 10th year as a professional. I have learned to be extremely resourceful over these past nine years. I have started companies, been a part of other people starting companies. I’ve played in other countries. I’ve helped kids get to play college soccer (which was an extremely rewarding experience). I’ve done a lot of writing, some for pretty great publications. I feel I have a diverse work experience resume in a sense. Mostly because I did all this while pursuing the my most prized life experience: playing soccer for a living. 

This is not a brag. You know when I’m bragging because I say stuff like, “yo, I’m great.” This is just to say it really isn’t so bad. I’m so glad I’ve been able to have all these different experiences. Like, I know how to build my own website. I wouldn’t have learned to do that if I could just you know, pay someone to do it! 

Similar to women who have been told being a professional and a mom isn’t possible, it isn’t easy. No one would blame you for doing one or the other. But it is possible. Really, anything is possible if it’s worth it to you, right?