It's the holidays, so just like everyone else in the world, I've been thinking a lot about what I'm thankful for and how lucky I am. Being a professional athlete and being involved with Sporting Chic has made me wonder what I did to deserve the life that I live. I get to wake up every day and do things that I love. I'm healthy. I'm in a happy relationship. I'm involved in something that I'm passionate about with two of my favorite people in the world (don't get too cocky, Kristie and Steph.) I get to play soccer every day and I get paid to do it.
The more I have thought about it, the more I realize that I didn't do anything to deserve this. My parents gave me this life through their love for me. The sacrifices that they made for me as I was growing up and the opportunities that they provided for me are what has gotten me here. Sure, I worked hard. I trained more than most of my teammates growing up and I had some natural ability. I sacrificed a lot of my social life and at times ran myself into the ground in order to make it to this level.
But what I've done for myself is nothing compared to what my parents have done for me. For starters, they committed to soccer just as much as I did. I can't even tell you the hours my dad and I spent in our old minivan driving all over the east coast for club soccer games. He and my mom gave up every single weekend for years in order to provide me and Kristie with the opportunity to play. My mom and dad paid for hotels, flights, uniforms, field time, extra training sessions, you name it. And it's not just money that they invested, but also time. And as a parent, I can imagine that time is the most valuable commodity.
I've grown up with a lot of talented players. Players who were faster than me or stronger than me or smarter than me. Most of them have gone on to do other things besides soccer and I wonder what it was that separated us. I get asked all the time what I think it is that got me here. I have no doubt in my mind that it was the commitment from my parents.
Kids who want to play D1 college soccer need opportunities to be seen by coaches. Kids who want to play for the US Women's National Team need opportunities to play for the best club teams. They need new cleats. They need someone to take them to CVS to get bandaids when they get blisters from their new cleats. They need a ride to practice. They need a ride to the gym. They need a ride to their game. They need someone to stay and watch their game and cheer for them. They need someone to yell at the ref occasionally. They need someone to volunteer assistant coach. They need someone to pay for their uniform. They need someone to tell them that they played well. They need someone to tell them that they aren't a forward anymore. They need someone to cry to on the way home from a loss.
Kids need parents who INVEST. Time, money, emotion, energy, love. Kids need parents who SACRIFICE. Keeping up around the house, keeping up with friends, going to church, going to the grocery store, getting any sleep at all. Sure, sometimes a freak athlete comes along and claws their way to the top without supportive parents. Would I have been that kid? I don't know,
All I know is this: my mom and dad sacrificed so much of their lives in order to give me mine. And right now, during the holidays, while I'm living a life that I love, I feel so grateful that they were willing to provide me with the opportunity to pursue greatness.
If your parents sacrificed for you, thank them. If they invested in you, thank them. It's something that we all take for granted at some point or another, but we shouldn't. To my own parents: I owe you everything.
Happy holidays to everyone and their parents!