This year has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I have learned a lot not only mentally but physically. My name is Citlaly, I’m 13 years old, and I joined the Girls U-14 soccer team at South Bronx United.  My coach from my school team had wanted me to tryout for the SBU team for a year. I didn’t really take it into consideration until my second year of middle school. Eventually, I decided to go to see them practice after I was further encouraged by Andy and my coach, who was about to leave his position at the school. I wanted him to know that I took his opinion into consideration.

Even though I knew some of the girls on the SBU team, I was nervous because this was the first time I would see them at practice. I was nervous because I didn’t really know how they were. It was different from being with the girls from the soccer team in my school—I practically grew up with them. When I met the Coach Noelle of the SBU team, I was relieved. She was nice but strict. She was very skilled when it came to soccer, and she encouraged me to work my hardest. She seemed to see potential in me and that encouraged me even more. She pushed me to do things that I said I couldn’t do.  Coach Noelle always says,  “Don’t say you can’t do it, instead say you can do it.” I learned a lot from her not only in soccer, and there are some valuable lessons I will remember. For instance, she showed me how to be more responsible with time management, how it can affect me if I’m late. Now, I feel bad if I get to the games late because I let my team down.

Noelle made me feel more comfortable. I didn’t really feel like I belonged the first few weeks of practice—I barely talked to the girls in the first few days. After a while, I  started to feel comfortable enough to make conversation, and I started to get used to them. I didn’t really feel nervous anymore. There was a lot to learn about them. It was hard, especially because the girls from my school, they liked soccer, but my new teammates are so passionate and are willing to play in bad weather conditions. If it rained, it didn’t really matter to them it was just a little rain. Yeah, they didn’t like that it would be harder to practice, but they liked challenges.

I’ve had so many adventures with them. My favorite was when we went to city hall to see the ceremony honoring the United States Women’s National Soccer Team. We did have to sit in the sun for two hours, with just a little from Starbucks in our stomachs. Afterwards, though, we went to eat at Shake Shack! It was my first time trying any food from there.  After lunch, we walked around a bit, and played soccer in a park nearby.

Coming out of the season, I feel like I have more goals. My goals are to become a better soccer player not only for me but for my team too. I want to score goals and learn how to communicate better. I need to achieve this to make myself stronger. Joining this team has helped me to realize that I need to work harder to achieve what I want.