LAUREN BERNARD

NCAA Women's Division I

BOSTON COLLEGE

 

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For four years, I was a member of the team at Boston College. We compete in the most dominant conference in the nation, the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Before embarking on my journey as an Eagle, I went through a long recruiting process. During this process, I narrowed my schools down based on the majors they offered, location, and previous success. After visiting many schools and talking to many coaches, I decided to give my verbal commitment to Boston College at the start of my junior year of high school. Over a year later, I signed my Letter of Intent and I was officially a member of the 2012 Boston College Women’s Soccer Team.

The summer before I arrived for preseason as an Eagle, I received a training packet and the information regarding our fitness tests for that fall. I spent my summer getting physically prepared to compete for both these fitness tests and soccer.

I arrived for preseason on August 1 and camp was set to start the following day. On August 2, at 5 AM, my fellow teammates and I went to a local track to take our first fitness test; run a mile in under 6 minutes, 10 seconds. From there, we went straight to the field to complete our last fitness test, which was to sprint ten straight 100-yard dashes ... after this, we trained as a team with the ball for more than an hour. That same afternoon, we had another training session and for the next week, we continued to have "double-days" to help us prepare for our first game of the season (the first of my collegiate career), which was on the road in California against the nation's No. 1 ranked team, Stanford.

During preseason, the main focus was soccer since we had not started classes yet. However, when we arrived back from California, school began. Now I was faced with the everyday task of balancing five courses, two hours of practice, and two games per week. Being in the nation's top conference meant that we traveled a lot and I would often miss classes from Wednesday to Friday.

All these demands required strong time-management skills, as well as prioritizing tasks within my day. All these commitments and responsibilities put a lot of pressure on me, and did not always make soccer “fun,” but more like a job. 

Although the process of being a NCAA Division I student-athlete was not always fun, it overall was a great opportunity that provided me with lasting friendships and helped me grow as a player and a person. Over my four years at Boston College, I played in over 75 games, traveled to a multitude of states, played with and against members of the current Women’s National Team, and had the opportunity to compete in three NCAA tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance.

What has stuck with me most about being a NCAA DI player is that it humbles you. I entered college being the best in Vermont. However, during college, I was no longer the best player. This occurs for most of us and can often be difficult to deal with. My advice is to be eager to learn, do your best to improve, accept your role, and do everything you can to be the best at that role.


 

BEN PETERS

NCAA Men's Division III

SUNY OSWEGO

 

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Soccer was the best thing about going to college. Not only did I play the best sport in the world, I was also a part of a group of people that I now call my family. We did everything together and never have I had such a close group of friends in my life that I now carry forward for the rest of my life. We had everything in common; from our feelings toward our coach’s decisions to what we should have been eating on away trips.

Playing college soccer helped me grow as a person by making me accountable for mistakes I made either on or off the field. I better learned that when you make a mistake, you’re not only letting yourself down, you’re letting your whole team down. Whether that mistake be a bad tackle on the field that led to a goal, or deciding to not finish an assignment for class and being suspended for an important practice or game because of that.I had to balance so many things at once and make sure I kept my priorities in order.

Between soccer, classes, work and just hanging out with friends, there was a lot to juggle. A typical day for me started by waking up at 6 AM and getting to work for 7 AM. I then would work until about 10 AM and then head to my classes until around 3 PM. I then had to immediately switch gears and get to practice for 4 PM. Practice usually ran anywhere from two to three hours and then I would have to rush back to the dining hall before dinner closed at 7 PM. At this point, I was already past a "12-hour working day" and I hadn’t even studied or done homework yet! That usually took up another 2-3 hours in the evening and by the end of that I was so exhausted I went to bed.

By representing a school on a sports team, I was also an ambassador for the school off-campus without even realizing it. On road trips, our coach always made sure we treated everyone with the utmost respect. We would be associated with our college and it was important to make others think of my school as a great institution. To younger children in the community, we were quasi-celebrities. Everything we did on the field, they saw and would most likely imitate. When something off the field happened and it ended up on the news or newspaper, children and adults in the community would see it and would create this idea of you, whether it be bad or good. My hope was to always make it good.

This idea of "professionalism" as a soccer player is where I believe I learned how to keep my composure no matter what the situation is now in my life. I’ve taken my experience as a student-athlete and used it to my advantage with my career; ironically, as a professional soccer coach.

I now lead young children on the field and I know how important it is to be professional with them. To also treat them with the utmost respect at all times. These players will hopefully take the lessons I teach them and use it for their future to impart wisdom on others one day. If I can teach something positive and have my players teach others that same thing, is that not what being a good person and leading a good life all about? I have college soccer to thank for this perspective!