The FC Wisconsin graduating class of 2018 marks another year where 90% of the graduating seniors in the club will be moving on to collegiate soccer. A group of great personality and energy, the improvement over their time in the club as individuals and a team has been significant. As they enter the final months of their youth soccer career, a few of these players have shared their thoughts on the club soccer journey they have traveled at FC Wisconsin, and the impact it has had on them
What would you tell a young player at FC Wisconsin to help them make the most of their youth experience, and to help them understand what it takes to compete at the highest youth level?
Audrey Poorman: You have to learn to love to work … You must fall in love with becoming the best version of yourself and never settling for anything less. To compete at the highest level requires you to train at the highest level. Playing against some of the best players in the nation in the ECNL, who know what it really means to work and execute, is going to expose weaknesses you did not know you had. But to overcome those weaknesses when you are tested, you must be able to rely on the hundreds of hours of work you put in for those moments. In this league, and on this team, I have found that you cannot take any shortcuts to real success. Not a lot of people get to play in an environment like this, and it is an amazing opportunity and platform to measure yourself against the best.
Emma Roemer: Setting goals is everything. When you know what you’re working towards it’s a lot easier to get through the hard days. There’s going to be ups and downs but never take the journey for granted because it’s how you grow. Playing at the highest level you have to learn to embrace being uncomfortable and realize that as you get better so does everybody else. It takes more than hard work to get to the next level. It’s an everyday mindset.
Sierra Koch: If you want to be the best player you can be, you need to listen to what the coach is trying to say to help you improve. The only way to compete at the best of your abilities is to take criticism and learn how to change the bad habits you may have developed and to get better.
Looking back over your time at FC Wisconsin, what is one experience you will remember most?
Audrey Poorman: I think the experience I will remember the most will be what it felt like to step on the field at my first ECNL National Event 4 years ago as a U15. I remember the thrill of walking onto the most incredible fields I had ever seen, next to some of the best teams and players from all over the country- players that I had heard about and read about. That will be something I’ll never forget. Getting to play with a team that knew what it meant to play for each other, and have fun doing so, was so motivating for me. From then on, every time I stepped onto the field at one of those National Events, I still got the same unduplicable rush, just as strong even at my 10th and final one this fall in Phoenix. It is one of the best scenes in all of youth sports, and having the opportunity to be a part of something that special is a memory I will always hold on to.
Lindsey Weiss: I actually have 2! The first is when we went to Seattle for the National Playoffs in 2015. Our team was in the North American Cup. We made it all the way to the National Finals but lost in penalty kicks against Minnesota. We ultimately played 4 games in 5 days but what I'll remember most is the time I got to spend in Seattle with my teammates, doing what we love most. The second is my first game back after tearing my ACL. We were in Michigan against Vardar. I was playing with my age group, and the age above me came to watch me play. I came in right before the end of the half, right before a free kick. I am not really sure what happened next, but I found myself in front of goal with the ball in the back of the net. I literally scored 5 seconds into coming onto the field. But for me, the best part was looking over at the sideline and seeing my teammates go absolutely crazy. They were jumping up and down, some were crying, they were even tweeting as it was happening. It was truly a blessing to share that moment with them.
Sierra Koch: I had only been in the ECNL for a year and I typically took free kicks for my team, but for the two weeks prior to this showcase I was in a rut and had not been doing well with them. This free kick was close to the goal, and I figured I should shoot it. I was terribly nervous but I took the kick, and with a goalkeeper mistake it went in. I actually jumped and spun around in excitement. I could not have been more embarrassed but it was my first goal in the ECNL and I will never forget that moment.
How do you think your time at FC Wisconsin helped you in preparing for your future, on the field or off?
Audrey Poorman: At FC Wisconsin, I learned what it means to face adversity. I learned that there are no better people than the ones that see your full potential and who will not let you give up until you reach it. It is something very special to be in an environment where your coaches and teammates relentlessly expect you, count on you, and drive you to perform at both your greatest and weakest moments. I learned that by deciding to entirely invest yourself into something- by taking all of the risks and difficulties that come with it, you will receive greater and more lasting rewards than you could have ever anticipated. If you truly want to succeed for the players around you, and if you invest in the relationships you form, you will find that you grow immensely as an individual. By pushing each other, and yourself, to maintain character in your weakest moments on the field, you will find you have developed a character and confidence that you can carry well beyond that field. I have learned what it means to play, to work, for not only myself, but for others: my teammates, the players who have come before me, the players that will come after me, the people who saw something in me that I couldn't see on my own. At FC Wisconsin, I have learned what it means to be a part of something bigger than myself.
Emma Roemer: The environment is challenging in many ways. It taught me how to adapt when put in difficult situations and how to manage my time wisely. Whether the scoreboard showed it or not I learned to trust my coaches and my teammates while taking pride in the little achievements. It’s an environment where you will be told or shown the truth even if you’re not quite ready to hear/see it. In order to succeed you have to be honest with yourself so you can take the steps you need to. That is relevant in anything you do in life.
Lindsey Weiss: From what I learned from Christian and the rest of the coaching staff I feel extremely confident entering college. I feel as though a solid foundation has been put in place for me. The intense trainings and competitive games in the ECNL will help prepare me. Off the field, I feel like I'm prepared to tackle whatever comes at me. Sports build character and that is 100% true. I've learned a lot of life lessons whether they came from Christian or from first hand experience. I credit them to making me who I am today.
Sierra Koch: The club was a big change from my previous clubs, where I was given a lot of compliments but not a lot of criticism or coaching. Once I got into this club, I began to get criticism which was hard and to say the least I was thrown off. Looking back, I could not be more thankful for my experience because learning how to conquer obstacles on the field is nothing compared to the problems I have faced in my job, in my AP classes, and what I expect to face in college.
What do you think separates this club from other soccer clubs and experiences you have had?
Audrey Poorman: This club is not just a soccer club; it was so much more than that for me. What I experienced in my time at FC Wisconsin has enabled me to grow as a person and as a player more than I could have ever conceived. When I look back on the things that have shaped me to be the person I am today, I owe so many of them to this club. Knowing all of the girls that went on to accomplish great things at the collegiate and professional level, it is truly something special to represent the jersey of this club. You know there is something incredible within the culture established at FC Wisconsin, something far more than a club, when the U18 players know all of the names of the U10’s. Playing with such a close-knit group of girls who have that same drive and desire that you do will provide you with teammates and friends that bring out your best on and off of the field.
Emma Roemer: In this club you are giving all the tools you need to in order to be successful. It’s just a matter of if you are willing to do what you need to get there. This club and league demonstrates what it takes to be at the highest level. You are put in an environment where there’s always going to be players better than you and that’s not an easy realization for young players who are used to being the best on their team. You’re surrounded by other great players who have the same goals as you and you have to be able to embrace the competition because it will only make you better. Success is not a given, it’s entirely up to the individual. This environment is not for everyone, but there’s a reason why those who can find success at this club will find success at the next level.
Lindsey Weiss: This club is intense and you have to bring your best everyday. For many, they can't handle that. I've been at the club since Program 1 and have seen many people come and go. It's not because they hated the club, it's because they couldn't handle the expectation to work everyday. But to be the best you can be, you must be willing to put in the work and expect nothing but the best from yourself. At this club there is an expectation to improve yourself everyday and that's what separates us from other clubs.