Friday, April 8, 2016

Different Place, Same Game

Soccer gives me so much joy.

I’ve known that fact growing up playing in the states. Every time I step on the field I feel at home. I’m now halfway across the world, in a country with people who primarily speak a different language, surrounded by tons of new faces, and soccer still brings me so much joy. Playing here gave me this realization: the place may change, but the game never does. I’m still at home on the field.

And y’all, Iceland is incredible. I had high expectations for the landscape from stalking five too many Icelandic Instagram accounts after I signed my contract (OK, more like fifteen, but who's counting?), and seriously, my expectations are definitely met. This place is SO COOL. I'm still thrilled I get to play my favorite sport in a cool environment like this one. I'm really digging this change of scenery (and boy, is it a big change).

During the winter we train in our indoor facility. I was really cold at first, but the weather isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It's no Texas, and I used to always tell myself I couldn't live in a place that was perpetually cold, but as the phrase goes, "there's no such thing as bad weather, just inadequate clothing." I found myself some warm clothes and now I'm doing just fine!

Twelve hours after my first steps in Iceland, I took my first steps on the field for my first practice here. I had just met my coaches that morning and my new family, and then met my teammates in the locker room just minutes before practice. 

Megan and I after my first practice with ÍA

Everyone is so nice here!!!

All the girls know English, some better than others. They speak in Icelandic to each other 99% of the time, but they'll speak English to us Americans and do well at making sure we're included in conversations. Slowly I am trying to learn common soccer words and phrases in Icelandic that they use often so I can have a better idea of what's going on. On the field, if we say soccer terms in English the girls know what we're saying (thank goodness). That made my first game so much better! But I still want to know how to say everything in Icelandic too. I'm getting better every day! 

We had one practice the night I arrived in Iceland, and one practice the night following. The third day I was there, we had a game at 11:00 in the morning. I had only practiced with the team twice prior, and had no idea who we were playing, so I really had no clue what to expect. I was just kind of thrown into it, but being confident enough in myself and also loving challenges, I knew I would be fine. 

We play in a 4-5-1 (for those who don't know soccer - that means 4 defenders, 5 midfielders, and 1 forward). It's a pretty standard formation that I'm used to. I started as one of the two defensive center midfielders (I stay in the middle of the field and defend as well as attack up the middle when we have the ball), and I played 70 minutes. I was so tired! Still jet-lagged and heavy from traveling, my legs were not feeling the greatest, so my coach took me out after 70 minutes to "not kill me our first game" (his words). As much as my heart wanted to finish the game, my legs welcomed the needed break. (At this level, once you are subbed out you can't go back in the rest of the game.)


Sleep-deprived, heavy legs, language barrier, new people, freezing cold, different country... none of those things stayed relevant as soon as my cleats hit the turf. I had so much fun playing on that field with those girls. 

I'm thanking the Lord every day for giving me the game of soccer to enjoy, and for giving me the talent and skills to enjoy it at this high level. Without His gifts and the passion He's given me for this game, I would have never been given this opportunity to see the world through soccer. All the glory goes to God!

"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 
1 Corinthians 10:31

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