The End… Completed

17 days ago I played my last ever college soccer game. I was incredibly emotional for a full 48 hours. I cried like a baby immediately after the game while embracing a few of my teammates and coaches. I teared up multiple times on the long seven hour bus ride home and I sat wept like a child the next day while sitting in a bar. I wasn’t incredibly emotional because I was sad it was my last game, I knew soccer was finite and the end was coming. Im 26 and took a six year break between my junior and senior year and had already lived for a significant period of time without the game. I was so emotional because of everything I had to go through to complete a dream I started pursuing as a young kid.

My #1 goal for 2018 was to come back and play my last year of college soccer. I knew it was going to be tough, being 26 with bills, out of shape, not having played the game at that level for six years, and going into a demanding environment with teammates quite a bit younger than me. The two months leading up to playing were two of the hardest months of my life. Left with the responsibility of making $10,000 in two months so I could afford to live without working during the fall semester so I could play. Dealing with an injury that left me without the ability to train and get fit till about a month and a half before preseason. Working eight hour days in the sun on turf coaching so I could make that money. Dealing with a break up that honestly devastated me. Wondering if I should just quit because the easier thing to do would be to not play and just choose to coach so I could relax.

I felt a sense of destiny and responsibility though and that kept me going. I felt like I was supposed to come back to play this last year and help lead the program and team back into national contention. I felt like maybe this was how it was supposed to happen all along? I quit soccer at age 20, frustrated with the game. Feeling like I was always constantly having to prove my worth because all of my identity was tied up in my performance. I always felt like I was climbing an uphill battle despite my work ethic. 

I was told in high school that I would be lucky to play for a mid-level division 3 school. I was constantly overlooked by club coaches. I was never valued by opposing coaches and missed out on individual awards constantly. The only coaches who really valued me as a player from a quality program was those at Notre Dame College. I felt they really believed in me and because of that I chose to go to school there. I wanted to play for a winning program and throughout my career we had 71 wins, 11 losses, 1 tie, finished 2nd in the country, had an undefeated season, and competed in three national tournaments. We won a lot. It was a blast.

But for me this last season was the season I always wanted to have and felt like I deserved to have. I played the third most minutes of anyone on the team, started every game, and got the opportunity to wear the captains arm band the last three games of the season. I helped the program to get back into the national tournament for the first time in three years. I helped the team finish ranked in the top 25 for the first time in three years. I helped the program to have the best regular season since 2011. I was told by my head coach that I was the best player on the field, something I never heard at the college level. 

I didn’t receive any individual awards but it wasn’t about that, it was about the fact that I did what I said I would do. I didn’t miss a single practice or game the whole season and gave it every thing I had everyday leading up to and during the season. I gave back to the program that believed in me when I was 16 when no one else did. It was never about me being a starter, wearing the captains armband, or being told I was the best player on the field. It was about finishing what I started, giving it everything I had, and giving back to the program that believed in me when no one else did. It’s been an incredible journey. One that I will never forget and will always cherish. I don’t love soccer because of an obsession with the ball, I love soccer because of all the things I had to go through in the pursuit of being the best I could.


Author: SammyV

SammyV is a college drop out, turned medical sales rep, turned writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. He hosts the Millennial Stores w/ SammyV podcast, speaks at colleges and universities on how to succeed in life after college, and runs his own private soccer training business. After battling with depression in his early to mid 20's he decided to quit is Medical Sales job, start his own business, and pursue his lifelong dream of being a speaker, writer, and author.

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