By Katie Ponce I June 9, 2015
As many of you know the Boston Breakers Academy is the only club in the U.S. with a youth club structure leading into the women’s professional league. The Breakers are a big family and growing. The players are not the only crucial part of this growing family. One of reasons I chose to continue my soccer career in Boston was because the Breakers were one of few clubs that promised me a place to live. However, I did not expect that the Breakers would provide me with a family that is making my stay here feel like home.
Being a host family for a Breakers player is completely voluntary, and you do not need a player involved in one of the youth club teams. When I accepted the offer to play on the Boston Breakers Reserves I didn’t know much about who I would be living with. Actually, besides for a family name and an email address, that’s all I knew. For the next three months, I committed to live with four strangers in a spare bedroom, more than four hours away from any friends and family. Just to catch everyone up on how out of my comfort zone this is: I’m the girl that cried every night the first week of preseason in college and my coach still uses me as the example to the freshman when they say goodbye to their parents on day one.
As foreign as it all sounded, the host family program is the only way I could keep playing soccer. I know what I get from living with a host family. Even with a contract, women’s professional soccer players do not make as much as most professional athletes, so a host family is a great option to keep costs low. However, my friends and family, even me, all were wondering why these strangers would want to host a Breakers player. Knowing that this was the first time my host family hosted a Breakers player, I knew that it was not routine for them to have someone stay every summer. Curious as to what they were getting out of the experience, I asked. After another family dinner they were including me on, the mother told me, ‘they wanted their children to have another positive role model.’ I knew when I met my host parents they were special people, but that pretty much confirmed how lucky I was.
From day one, my host parents have gone out of their way to make me feel included in this family. I spend my nights eating dinner with them, and their two kids. I have been to two soccer games, an end of the year soccer party, a birthday dinner, a chorus concert, and they even threw me my own graduation dinner after I finished my final exams. What these events don’t show you is how much this family has given me, simply by being the people they are. I say I’m so lucky because both of the parents are intelligent and strong. The lessons they are teaching their kids and the examples they are setting is exactly how I hope my own family looks like some day. The respect and kindness both of the children give me also says a lot about the environment they come from. When people back at home ask me how Boston is going, I don’t just talk about the soccer. Now, don’t get me wrong, that part is great and that’s what I came here for, but I’m gaining so much more from my stay here than what I’m just doing on the field. My host family has helped me get to know the area and meet new people at my new home. The relationships I’m making in this town are making my stay comfortable and diversifying my experience that much more.
I’d like to think that in return, I am being that positive role model for their kids. Although when they first told me why they decided to host me, it terrified me to think that the 14 and nine-year-old I was living with were going to be looking to me as an example. I have to admit that I’m really proud of that role now. It makes me believe that what I am working so hard for matters. At the very least, I hope that they see that I am just a regular person; a normal girl who just worked hard to get here.
I think through the #BreakersFamily we are both giving each other something and it’s not so much about the physical things other than the moments I can’t really write into words. What I can say is thank you. Thank you to my host family and everyone that choices to become a part of the #BreakersFamily. Because of all of you, I am here.
If this blog interested you at all in joining our family, you can log on and see some frequently asked questions and answers from past host families. Continue to be a part of my journey as I talk next week about the physical and mental transitions from college soccer to the next level. This transition can be seen at all levels as players move up.
Katie Ponce, 22, grew up in Westfield, N.J. She graduated from Towson University with a degree in Business Administration. Currently playing and working for the Boston Breakers Reserve team. Find her on Twitter @breakersunlaced