With preseason wrapping up, I couldn't help but feel like I'm in a similar position as all of my ECNLers out there. Although y'all are nearing the end of the ECNL season and I am only beginning mine, I still feel like we are in a similar situation. For months you and your teammates have trained and played games in hopes of making the playoffs. The months of preparation are about to put to the test for some of you, as you embark on the post-season. In the same way, I feel my team will soon be tested too. We have practiced twice a day, we have ran endless amounts of sprints, struck hundreds of balls and prepared for the weeks ahead. On April 16th, we will be tested for the first time. Our preparation will be judged and we will begin to define the season ahead of us.
Our bodies and minds are tired from the last 4 weeks of training, but the excitement that comes with the beginning of each season has provided us with the adrenaline we need to be successful. Many of you may find yourselves feeling the same way. For some teams, Jersey will be the place to compete for some of the final playoff spots. Other teams may have clinched a spot and are in the midst of training to win it all. No matter your situation, it is crunch time. Your muscles may feel sore, legs heavy, but the time is nearing where you will be forced to forget the bumps and bruises and do whatever it takes to help your team come out on top.
So as you go into the final stretch of your season and the pressure sets in, here are my 3 pieces of advice!
1. Trust your preparation
-You have prepared for these moments. You've ran the sprints, taken the shots, practiced the touches that will help propel your team to the top. Let those hours of preparation comfort you in times that you feel the pressure to perform. At the end of the day, trust that you have put in the work and good things will happen.
2. Stay discipline
-It's not good enough just to get there! You have to finish it. Remember the things that got you to this moment and understand it will be a very small margin that seperates your team from the others. Whether its eating the right food to fuel your body, foam rolling after practice or a game even though you want to go to your friends house or putting your phone away earlier because you have a game the next day and you need more sleep. Do what you have to do so that you give your team the best shot at winning. Because at the end of the day that's what great players and great teams do; they sacrifice the little things so they know they did everything in their power to help their team win.
3. Stop & Enjoy it
-We often get so caught up in these moments that we forget to enjoy them. Make sure you take that time to recognize the work you put in to get there and enjoy the opportunity to compete for a championship. Even if it is taking 5 minutes before you warm up to sit and think about the process or use the time you're putting your cleats on to replay your favorite memory from the season. Just make sure you take the time to stop, remember how you got here and enjoy the present opportunity because one day, when you're an old ECNL alumni like me, it will just be a distant memory that you wish you could relive.
That's all for now! Hope all of you find the time to tune in this season to watch some NWSL games. If you don't have a team near you, check out the NWSL youtube channel to catch EVERY game. The best players in the world play in this league and it is our duty as AMAZING YOUNG WOMEN to help grow OUR game. So make sure you support in whatever way possible! Good luck with all of your seasons, go finish strong!