“Where are you from?”
Growing up playing different camps and traveling with my club team, this was a common question. But for me, it wasn’t always as easy as just saying I am from Green Brook, New Jersey. And the people who really watched my game could tell the answer wasn’t quite that easy either.
Although I was born in the states, my parents moved to the U.S. from France in 1992 because my dad was getting his post-doctorate fellowship at the University of South Alabama. Our family always had the intention of moving back to France, but when a job opportunity came up in New Jersey, he took it and we’ve been here ever since.
Even though the states were my soccer environment, my dad, a former professional soccer player in France, still wanted all three of his kids to learn the way he was taught.
The European Style.
Being the youngest of 3, with both my brother and sister having elite soccer careers of their own, we were always competing in some way with soccer.
Many times, my dad would come out and join us, always stressing the importance of playing well technically. He would always help us work on our shooting, passing, and dribbling, scrutinizing the small details like the way they do in France. And with all of the practice, many times these would end in scrimmages of my dad and me versus my older sister and brother.
No matter what, there was always some sort of competition.
From this training, one of my favorite memories is our infamous games of soccer tennis. To those that aren’t familiar with it, the game involves playing regular tennis, but instead of a racket and tennis ball, you play with your feet and a soccer ball. It would always start as just a fun game but quickly rose with intensity as play went on.
Still to this day, we debate on who the overall champion team is, but no matter what, I always look back on these moments as the ones that developed the skills that are visible in how I play today.
After years of training with my siblings, I first started to look to the next level when my sister started her recruitment process. One of the top players in our area, the attention that Daphne received from college coaches made me realize that I could one day become a collegiate athlete just like her.
And after watching her commitment to Georgetown, I set the goal of playing soccer throughout my four years of college too. The path that she made, pushed me and made me realize how much work needed to be put in if I wanted to continue on playing, along with the sacrifices that would come as well.
And several years later, as I was going through that same process, I found myself making the same decision as Daph.
Although I might have ended up at the same university, I chose Georgetown for my own reasons. In the past years, I had the opportunity to attend home games to watch my sister, where Coach Nolan helped me become familiar with the program’s style of play along with the beautiful campus in our nation’s capital.
After being drawn to the athletics, it was an easy sell on the academics as well. With the combination of one of the best programs in the country and the renowned academics of Georgetown, the balance was something I couldn’t find anywhere else.
During this recruitment, Daphne was still on the team, but she never put too much pressure on me. She always had the opinion that I pick the school that was best for me and where I saw myself being the happiest. She always treated it the way only a great big sister can.
But obviously, she was a huge part for me. Growing up, we never went to the same high school and the age difference always prevented us from playing on the same club team.
Although I knew my sister was one of the stars of the program, playing with Daphne was still something I wanted to do at least once in my life, so I made my commitment.
Even though I was making the transition to college in a familiar environment, it was still tough. No matter how comfortable an environment is, the increased speed of the game still challenges everyone making that jump.
Trying to be two steps ahead of the game, while still worrying about alignments, I often found myself struggling to keep up.
Along with the transition, having an older sister that was also the star of the team was difficult to adjust to for me as well. I was obviously happy that she was doing so well, but at times it became distracting. I often felt like no matter the level of my play, I still would end up in her shadow.
Knowing this, I just tried to focus on myself and what I could do to increase my level of play. Specifically, I looked for ways I could contribute to the team and help us win.
With both Daphne and I playing attacking center midfield, I found myself switching my position. But instead of trying to remain the same player I was before, I adjusted to the other forward positions and quickly found ways I could help that were unfamiliar at first.
Instead of looking to attack, I tried to setup my teammates and find a way for us to score.
It may have been different than what I was used to, but that one year of crossover we had and the new skills I learned from it, helped improve our team in ways I had never been able to contribute in before.
Now as I look to enter my senior year and chase a Big East Championship along with a College Cup, I hope to help lead our team using some of the same skills I learned during that year of playing from the shadows. Taking it one game at a time and focusing on our team’s needs, I will do whatever is asked of me in order to help our team win.
So no matter if it’s an older sibling that is receiving the attention or a superstar on the team, instead of being upset by their shadow, look to help the team in ways that might be uncomfortable for you at first. From setting up your teammates so they can score to helping the team defensively, filling the team’s gaps will make you shine in your own way.
Rachel Corboz | Contributor