Joana Bielefeld just finished her youth soccer career at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, after helping lead the team to 2 successive NCAA Tournament appearances, and starting every game of her junior and senior seasons. Before college, Joana balanced the demands of soccer and basketball in the winter, (she was Metro Conference Basketball Player of the Year), while playing year round club soccer her final 2 years of high school. Read her words about her time with FC Wisconsin Eclipse coaches!
Joana Bielefeld played youth soccer on an FC Milwaukee team that went on a remarkable run of national achievement over 3 years. During the team’s U16 – U18 seasons, the team proved itself as consistently one of the top 10 teams in the country by winning the USYS Midwest Regional League once and finishing second once, qualifying for 2 USYS Region II Midwest Championship Finals (where they dropped both heartbreaking games in overtime), and qualifying for both the Disney Showcase –Showcase Division Finals and the San Diego Surf Cup Finals (losing in overtime again). Joanna played as a center back and defensive midfielder as a youth player, setting a tremendous example of tenacious tackling, heading, and ball-winning. In high school, she played club soccer year round her junior and senior year, while also being named the Metro Conference Girls Basketball Player of the Year her junior and senior year. Joana also played in the WPSL each season of her college career.
Joana went on to play one year at Ohio University, before transferring to the University of Wisconsin - Madison as a sophomore and ending her career in the Fall of 2012 after 3 very successful seasons. Joana started every game at Wisconsin her junior and senior seasons, and was named Academic All-Big Ten in 2011 and Team Most Improved Player in 2011. In her senior season, she scored 2 game-winning goals from defensive midfield, finished third on the team in assists, and helped Wisconsin qualify for a second straight NCAA tournament.
How did you pick Madison as the place you wanted to go to school and play college soccer?
"For a variety of reasons, I needed a change after my freshman year of college, and looked to transfer to Madison. I knew I wanted to be at a bigger school, in a big conference and a really competitive environment. My club coaches helped me work through the situation and decision, and through the transfer to Wisconsin. After one visit I knew that Wisconsin was the place for me. The team was welcoming, had each other’s backs, and made me feel like I could contribute to the success of the program."
How did the training and competition you had as a youth player help prepare you for collegiate success?
"The training atmosphere that we had forced me to get better. Every practice was really fast paced, and forced me to move faster, play faster, and make quicker decisions. The competitions and tournaments that we took part in put us up against the best teams in the US, and pushed us to also become one of the best."
What is your favorite part about playing in college?
"My favorite part about playing college soccer is the soccer “family” that is created. At Madison we have each other’s back on and off the soccer field. Having this sense of unity off the field creates an even better environment on the field, which pushes you to work for your teammates."
What are your favorite memories of playing in club?
"My favorite memories playing club always seemed to be made while on the road with the team. After every game the parents would pick up bags of ice and we would all take ice baths in tubs. Another fond memory of mine was at my favorite tournament, Surf Cup in San Diego, California. The whole team took surfing lessons together!"
How do you think your soccer career (youth and college) helped you most?
"I truly believe that soccer has better prepared me for life than anything else. It has taught me the importance of listening, and how to take instruction. It has taught me the significance of trust and having the back of those closest to you. Finally, it has instilled in me the importance of time management, hard work, and teamwork."
What is the best piece of advice you wish someone had given you while you were a youth soccer player?
"Enjoy every moment of it and don’t take it for granted! Whether you believe it or not those years of soccer are some of the best of your life. Those teammates will be ones you will never forget, so work hard for them because EVERYDAY MATTERS! Take advantage of every opportunity to get better, because it will only better prepare you for what’s to come."