Ellis Mumford is a senior at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia and she penned this "letter to soccer" after walking off the collegiate soccer field for the final time earlier this week. As parents, the life lessons, camaraderie, memories and friendships Ellis writes about are exactly what we hope for our children in the game, and this letter is a powerful touchpoint for us as we encourage our children to stay involved with the game.
With Ellis' permission, I am happy to share her "letter to soccer" with the Soccer Parenting community.
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Dear Soccer, where do I even start?
I can’t remember a time you weren’t a part of me, although I am told that as a 4 year old my idea of playing soccer was crying when I kicked the ball because I didn’t want to hurt it.
I was never the best at soccer, but soccer was always something that motivated me to work my hardest and give my all. I was never the MVP, never scored the game winning goal, but I did stick around. And sometimes, just showing up and having the resilience to do what the game asks in spite of setbacks is all it really takes.
Soccer, you took me places I never could have imagined.
From showcases in Texas, to having the time of my life in the field house in high school, to ending my collegiate soccer years on the field in the NCAA Round of 32. I never dreamed of the friendships and memories that a simple sport could have made possible.
You gave me grit, and made me both humble and confident.
You brought me second families and relationships that transcend simple friendship, bolstered by a common goal, job, and passion.
You frustrated me to no end many times, but it all happened exactly how it needed to and how lucky was I to get an extra 3 years to play the most beautiful game in college. I will never forget how it feels to await the whistle for kickoff, or go sprinting from the bench to celebrate a win. I will never forget the relentless courage and heart of everyone I’ve played with. I will never forget the bus rides and the rap battles and the team dinners.
Dear Soccer, when we met I was a little girl who was scared of everything.
You helped me to find my voice and my power and my people.
You taught me how to put it all on the line and give unyieldingly to something bigger than myself. You helped me grow up into a woman who knows how to be a teammate and a competitor and always will.
Dear soccer, our relationship is changing again, but this isn’t goodbye.
I know I’ll still be seeing you whenever there is ball and somewhere to play and someone to play against. Whenever there is a chance to compete and yet somehow simultaneously come together. Because soccer, after all these years you aren’t getting rid of me that way. You’re part of me. So, Thank you.