By: Katie Ponce I June 2, 2015
Soccer has been something I have done since I was six years old, but it didn’t become my dream til I was 16 years old. Like everyone, I tried most sports at a young age, but found I excelled in soccer. All my friends played as well, so it seemed like a good fit. I didn’t think much about my talent, as much more than a hobby til someone convinced me where it could take me. Soccer took me to play D1 college soccer on a full ride, it took me through meeting lifelong friends, finding role models, and it’s taking me on a journey to follow my dreams.
This dream is to someday be a professional soccer player. Luckily, for girls with this same dream, the professional women’s soccer league is back, and it is sticking. Most girls recognize at a young age the desire to play soccer like their favorite stars and entered the path to meet these dreams. Since I was not the traditional soccer junky, I worried that college would be the end for me. However, the Boston Breakers presented a door for me to follow my dreams and are giving me all that I could ask for. A chance to continue to play at a high level while providing me with a home, and working opportunities as I fight to follow this dream.
As a new member of the Boston Breakers Reserve team, I entered into a new family for the next stage of my soccer adventure. Many people are unaware of what it means to be on the reserve team. The reserve team practices most days next to or with the Boston Breakers and are all eligible to be called up if needed, but spend the weekends playing in their own league at a chance for a Women’s Premier Soccer League, WPSL, title. The WPSL is the largest women’s soccer league in America, and last year the Boston Breakers Reserves made it to the Northeastern Regional semifinals.
The reserve team players aspire for the day to be called up for the first team, but in the meantime help support the Breakers foundation, fighting to make this program the strongest it can be. Since reserve players are not actually professional, we work for the Boston Breakers Academy, helping to coach and mentor youth teams around Massachusetts. The reserve team is made up of girls from around the country who have chosen Boston as their next stop in keeping their dreams alive. Close to all of us played college soccer and are returning Breakers players or were invited after the open tryout. As long as your college soccer eligibly is up, you may play on the reserve team. From there we are put into host families and report in March with the first team or for many of us in May when our season starts.
Typically the reserve team plays soccer four or five days a week, three/four practices and one game. One of these practices includes a scrimmage against the first team to help them before for their weekend game, give them confidence in their shape and strategies, and of course to challenge us. Practices all take place at Harvard, which is one of prettiest sites I could imagine if I’m going to be forced to do our two-mile timed run. The atmosphere is competitive on the field, but am I already calling the reserve girls my friends off the field. Until schools let out, we coach weeknights, or weekend games and clinics. A side perk is with two off days and coaching only four days a week, there has been plenty of time to also enjoy the home of the Breakers. Personally, Boston is a new city to me, so it’s been nice that the reserve team schedule allows for time for me to get to know the city I am calling home this summer.
With this being a World Cup year, the opportunities to make the first team have presented themselves more frequently than in previous seasons. Just last week two former reserve team players, Sam Lofton and Chanel Johnson, were named to the roster as amateur call-ups. These girls got to sit with the team this weekend as they beat 2014 champions, Kansas City. It’s exciting when news like this hits the team, not only because you get to see a friend get a shot, but you know that what you are hoping for really is possible. At age 16, if you told me I would be fighting to get a shot with Boston Breakers, I would have never believed you. While that fight is long from over, the chance is a blessing.
Most of life is what you make of it. There are 20 roster spots for the Boston Breakers team and over 35 girls that make up the first team and the reserve team. The fight for the dream certainly is not easy and does not present an opportunity for everyone. But the entire process - practicing with professionals, stepping way out of your comfort zone to live with strangers, avoiding the workplace for just a little longer, all of it, to continue to do what I love is enough for me.
At the end of day, following your dreams is really, really hard. That’s why not everyone does it. Luckily, for people crazy enough, the Boston Breakers provide a way for those to take a shot at their dreams. I hope now that you have gotten the chance to get to know who the Boston Breakers Reserves are, you will follow me on my journey this summer. Stay tuned next week to hear more about what it’s like to be a host family for the Boston Breakers. I will be interviewing my host family, who like me, this is their first summer with the Boston Breakers.
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