It feels like just yesterday I was picking dandelions in the outfield during an AYSO soccer game and now I find myself hanging up my cleats and waving goodbye to the game. I started playing competitive travel soccer at U8 with the Trevian Soccer Club. I was on the white team and my dream was to be on the top blue team and then hopefully someday play for the New Trier varsity squad and go on to attend a top-tier university. Time went on and those distant dreams became realities. I earned myself a starting position on the varsity team as a freshman and later was nominated a senior captain that lead my team to a state championship title. Following in my mother’s footsteps, I was recruited to play soccer at Trinity, where I immediately fell in love with the school and the team. Although the transition from high school to college wasn’t easy, it was soccer that served as my stable outlet and source of pure happiness. It has always been soccer.
People often question why I would rather play soccer than have free time or go to a party. While I would sometimes wonder the same thing, I always come to the conclusion that there is nothing quite like sprinting down the sideline, stealing the ball from an opponent on a breakaway, and winning a game. There are a lot of sacrifices: missing nights out with friends and getting little sleep because of a 5 am wake-up, but it's so worth it with the teammates you love. Soccer wouldn’t be the same without the other 10 players on the field and the 10 or so on the bench. Playing soccer has served as the core of my strength and it’s my teammates who have picked me up when times were tough. Life isn’t easy - but it’s a whole lot easier with your sisters by your side. As I look back on my soccer career, the best memories aren't the championships and the records, but the time spent with teammates.
As a kid, I idolized Christy Howser, a forward on the 2003 and 2004 New Trier High School State Championship team. To this day, I have her college profile hanging on my bulletin board with the words, “the strongest part of my game is that I’m the hardest worker” highlighted. Those simple yet powerful words have shaped and carried me through my life, and not just as a soccer player. From academics to shopping, I do everything with my whole heart and with 110% work ethic. In addition, my coaches have taught me that no matter how good of a player you are on the field, it is much more important that you are a good person off the field. I have grown from all the experiences soccer has provided me. From learning how to put in the work when no one is looking to being a good loser to making sacrifices, the values instilled through soccer have translated into myself today.
As a defender, it was never about scoring the most goals or earning the most points, it’s always been about the team. Defenders not only serve as protectors of the net, but also as the backbone of the team, which has instilled responsibility and confidence in me. In addition, soccer is like being a cog in a machine; stringing a series of passes and seeing the ball buried in the back of the net. It’s never about me or you, it's about we and playing for something bigger than yourself. We each are a piece to the puzzle. That’s what soccer is all about.
From a young age, I was Sarah the soccer player and that served as the core of my identity. Now as a senior college student, I realize that I am much more than just a soccer player. In the end, there isn’t just one simple answer to why I played soccer. Of course at the start of my career it was because my parents signed me up, but in the end, I played for my teammates and in order to pursue the feeling of something bigger than myself. I am forever indebted to the game and the people I met along the way. Thanks to soccer, I am walking away from the game a better teammate, leader, and person.
Written by Sarah Connors '18, senior tri-captain of the Trinity women's soccer team