I recently had a friend through his actions, remind me of a good lesson.
To make your life look the way you want it to, you have to take action and get out of your comfort zone to make it happen.
To make a long story short, he played his freshman year in college, and then last year, for reasons I think partly had to do with playing time, and partly had to do with not seeing eye to eye with the coach, he’d had enough and he quit his college team. It was sad mostly because the kid loves soccer, and our whole training group was bummed to see him stop. But because of this passion for the game, he continued to put the work in, although he no longer had a team to belong to.
He decided in the spring that he’d try to transfer, but unfortunately every time a school would show interest (obviously an exciting thing), they would mysteriously disappear. He obviously hadn’t endeared himself to his former coach and this was no doubt playing a role in conversations that prospective schools were having with him. We experienced the ups and downs with him and were obviously bummed on his behalf.
Through a connection he ended up getting an opportunity to try out for a team overseas, and despite all the negative that has happened this year, had the guts to take it. And last week he went over, scored some goals in exhibition games and opened a world of opportunities for himself through taking a different route.
Using women’s soccer as an example, in this day and age, to be blunt there is little opportunity once you are done college in North America. If you don’t have any kind of full or youth national team experience it becomes even harder.
Even then there are no guarantees.
The beauty of overseas is that they don’t care who you are–I’ve played for top teams in Denmark and Norway that have no idea the difference between a UNC and a Southeastern middle of nowhere college. If you get in front of them, they care who can play, and players are judged solely on that.
At the end, whether or not if its a business, athletic team, or an orchestra, if you’re amazing at what you do and you get in front of the right people, sooner or later, things will happen.
Which brings me to another important point to remember: when things aren’t going your way, don’t lose your individual motivation to put the work in to get better. You may have people for political reasons, or a lack of understanding of talent or whatever it is, that may not validate your talent on your journey. But the crucial point remains. If you put the work in, you’re going to get better. The better you are, and the more you put yourself out there, sooner or later someone will recognize that ability, appreciate that ability and reward that ability. And that ability will have an opportunity to grow, be challenged, and reach an even higher level.
From the standpoint of accomplishing things, what I have learned is that opportunities come to those with not necessarily the most ability, but to those that are willing to do something different to everyone else and who have the guts and the desire to make their dreams happen. Most importantly it is those who have the determination to do whatever it takes (obviously keeping integrity intact, because nothing is worth giving up for that, but we’ll save that blog post for another day) to get there.
Whether or not its a job, or a college team, or a professional women’s team overseas, all of them are getting bombarded with a million emails all saying the same thing…I’m so and so, and I’d like this opportunity.
You need to put the effort in to capture their attention, and there is no better way to do that, then to get in front of whoever makes the decisions (this is reminding me of stories of Taylor Swift as a 14 year old beating down the doors of Music Row in Nashville, but I digress).
So for those that are sitting around, “hoping to go overseas (or “hoping” for anything) I want to give some advice.
1. Know what your goal is, and decide you are going to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
2. Research the landscape to find out where the best place for you to go to develop. Use twitter, or friends of friends (the women’s soccer world is a village) to find out about environments that other people have been in and where you have the best chance of reaching your potential.
3. Save up so you have enough money to get you going (I know soccer camps are always looking for quality coaches)
4. Contact some teams in a few different areas (once you get to Europe, to get around it is dirt cheap), and ask them if you can come and tryout.
5. Buy your ticket.
6. Put all the work you’ve put in on display and rip it up.
I’ll finish with another anecdote.
I have friend who a few years ago was telling me how badly she wanted to play overseas and asking me what she should do. I recommended this exact formula above. And she surprised me and the next time I talked to her she had quit her job and bought a plane ticket to Europe and contacted some teams.
And sure enough, although she had never represented a national team at any level, and had a fairly short resume, she showed enough quality in her play to go under contract with one of the top teams in a very solid league overseas, where she stayed for 1.5 years, an experience that I am sure she would tell you, enriched her life in countless ways.
Dream Big. Always Believe. Make it Happen.