I have been playing sports for about as long as I can remember.
Every day after school, my two siblings, neighborhood friends and I could be found in my backyard engrossed in some form of competition. Every summer, my dedicated mother towed the three of us from t-ball to kickball to gymnastics and to soccer. Rain or shine, humidity or snow, I wanted to be outside playing.
Hailing from Wisconsin, a small girl, living in a small town with my family of five, I grew up incredibly shy, afraid to ask questions, and mortified by the thought of making mistakes. Think: the girl who always apologized for a mildly bad pass or a missed shot on goal. That was me.
Things changed when I entered middle school and joined a new soccer team. At the end of the summer, having taken possibly a grand total of five shots all season, I scored my first goal. It’s a memory clear as day even now. It was a home game, and I was at the top left-side of the box. One moment, the ball was at my feet, the next it was sailing just left of the keepers glove and rolling through the back of the net. The words from my coaches contained pure excitement, and included one impactful question, “Where was that all season?” The adrenaline rush, the pride, the support; these were rewards I had to chase.
From then on, I promised myself to take more shots, on and off the field alike.
I became more outgoing and volunteered to try new things more often. By eighth grade, I was attempting basketball, a sport I had never played officially and one I was certainly not destined for considering I measured about 5’1”, but I tried anyway. In high school, I went out for the dance team, and by senior year I was a co-captain. Being an athlete not only helped me sustain a healthier lifestyle and taught me how to be a good teammate, but it also gave me the confidence to take risks and to learn from mistakes rather than dwell on them.
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 with the intent of completing a gap year before heading for a masters in public health. But when I happened upon the Project Manager position with GSW, it was a no-brainer. I readjusted my plans and took the risk. I could hardly believe it: teaching sports, for girls, in South America. One of my friends asked, “Was this position written for you?”
Six months later, Rach, my stellar co-PM, and I are here in Cusco taking on our first real week of classes! The last couple weeks with our chicas dinámicas have me overjoyed about being here and working on the GSW team. They are goofy, unique, and energetic, and I am so stoked to spend this next year sharing my experiences with and learning from them – and sharing them with you too! More tales of our chicas are to follow, so for now, hasta pronto!