When I was a senior in college playing soccer, I was at the top of my game. I graduated college having been a first team All-American and a U23 US National team pool player. I was picked up by two teams in Europe and played professionally in France and Germany. Unfortunately while I was in Europe my performance on the field was deteriorating and I was fatigued all the time. I didn't feel as strong or as fast and I wasn't executing the things I had always executed on the field.
As my seasons progressed in Europe, I wasn't the same player I was when I finished my 2004 Fall season at Princeton. I knew it but couldn't figure out how to get myself back. In 2006, after my first season in France, I got called back with the National Team and had a terrible showing. I had to step off the field at one point because my legs completely cramped up, it was like I was running in quicksand. I had lost one of my key assets as a player...my speed. Like any other Type A high-level athlete, I was extremely hard on myself and I just kept thinking I didn't train hard enough or I wasn't mentally strong enough. I left that camp knowing I hadn't left a good impression. I never got called back to another US National Team camp again.
In 2007 I came home from Europe to take a job in college, coaching, but with the hopes that I would return to playing professional soccer as the women's pro league in the US was resurrecting. While at the college, I would train to keep myself fit and ready for my opportunity. Training turned into a vicious cycle. The harder I trained the worse I got; the worse I got the harder I thought I needed to train. This cycle continued for years and I was never able to leave coaching soccer to actually play soccer, again. I just couldn't get myself strong and sharp again. My body broke down every few days, my muscles killed me after one workout, and I just couldn't recover. My twenties were some of the hardest years of my life despite having so many great blessings and opportunities come my way. I had lost my ability to play at the level I had worked so hard to get to and it was one of the toughest things I had to go through.
Stay tuned for next week's post on how I regained my health, my confidence, and my ability to play again...