Oct. 24, 2005
Playing a collegiate sport teaches you a lot of things. Student-athletes must learn how to balance the dual demands of school and hours on the field. They learn about hard work and the need to stay focused. Those are just a few of the universal lessons but each student-athlete also learns things on a more personal level. They learn about themselves, their limits and sometimes even their strengths. That has been the case for Seminole senior
In her freshman season Alli played in all 23 of
“It has been a difficult process,” said Alli. “It is humbling. I came to
Her next three seasons were all about battling for those minutes. She was working hard to get on the field and challenging for a starting role but the work she was putting in wasn’t translating to more time. In 2003 she did make her first start but she wasn’t on the field for five games of the 26 the Seminoles played that season.
The next year she came back as a junior and faced going through another preseason and possibly another year where she still wasn’t going to be able to break into the first 11. That August of 2004 was a low point for the forward.
“I thought about giving it up,” said Alli. “I think there is a point for everyone where they contemplate that. For me it was at the end of preseason my junior year. I definitely was unsure about my future in soccer. Every preseason you think `Do I really want to go through this again.’ But that year was especially tough. It was a dark spot for me.”
But instead of giving up, Alli learned one of those personal lessons that year. She learned about perseverance. She learned about what it means to be a team player and how much someone can contribute to a program’s success without being a starter.
“It used to be hard to keep going out and working when you didn’t see that pay off in a starting role,” said Alli. “But I know now that working hard at practice doesn’t just make me better it makes the players around me better. If I challenge the starters in practice and help them to get better, maybe I will get another chance to go to the College Cup even if I am not the one leading us there on the field. I am still part of the team that achieved that goal.”
Getting to another College Cup is a goal for the senior but being a part of the team that went to the first one on school history in 2003 is something she cherishes. It is something she would have missed if she didn’t stick it out, an experience she will carry with her for a number of reasons.
“I played in a College Cup match,” Alli says proudly. “I will always be able to say that. That moment made me appreciate the decision I made. Going to another school I wouldn’t have experienced that. I wouldn’t have gone through it with the people I am close to today.”
Alli’s role in the
“What a lot of people don’t understand is that things aren’t always easy even for our star players,” said Alli. “That’s where being on a team comes into play. If
“For me personally she is a constant reinforcement,” said fellow senior
“On the field at practice watching her work hard is an inspiration to all of us as well. She may not be starting but that never stops her from trying to make herself and the players around her better.”
What she has also discovered along the way is that support is a two-way street. While she is busy filling her role and supporting her teammates they are their supporting her too. Whenever she has needed them, her team has been there for her.
“In hard times it was the trio of me, T and Leah (Gallegos) that were always there for each other,” said Alli. “They have always been my backbone. Since Leah left (transferred to USC) my backbone has gotten a little bigger with
“As roommates we have a close relationship and I try to be there for Alli whenever she needs me,” said Teresa. “I try to encourage her when she needs it too. She is like all of us in the sense that we all need positive reinforcement at times.”
Alli hasn’t only learned how someone can be a part of a team and make that team successful in other ways. Soccer has taught her so much more. It has engrained in her lessons that will carry over to the next phase in her life and years after.
“The experience of always fighting to get on the field and not being the best at something has made me more motivated and competitive,” said Alli. “I am always fighting to get on the field and that has an affect on me. In the next stage of my life I will be competing as well.
“Soccer has taught me not to give up and to look at the positives. It has shown me how hard you have to work at things. I take that away from my experience here. I also take the loyalty and support I have received from my team. The charisma and friendship these girls give me will always be with me.”
Alli will get a chance to put those lessons into practice when she graduates with a degree in social science in 2006. Not only did she make it through four years as a Division I athlete she will graduate on time. An amazing accomplishment when you consider she came in her freshman year with nine other players and only she and Teresa are still here.
“Being a senior and making it through four years of playing college is something I am very proud of,” said Alli. “We came in with a class of 10 and there are just two of us left. Being a senior with T has been so special. We have pretty much been through it all. The team has made it special this year. They make us fell like they are working hard so we can get as far as we are capable of in our final season.”
That is something that is important to Alli. When she went to the College Cup in 2003 as a sophomore, there were just two seniors that season as well. It was a class that began with nine and by the time all was said and done, once again there were just two four-year seniors there at the end.
That season was a magical year for
“I remember how special it was when Amber and Kristin got to the College Cup in their final season here,” said Alli. “Everyone worked to get them as far as possible. I think this team has a similar feeling right now.”
With only four games remaining in the regular season and the Seminoles in the midst of their most successful regular season in program history, another run to the College Cup has crept into Alli’s mind but she also knows that it could all be over at any moment as well. She and Teresa are now starting to get a case of “the lasts”.
“Me and T have the realization now that we are starting to do our last thing like our last trip to
Alli is shocked that she is getting as sentimental as she is. She never thought she would be one of those seniors that get caught up in a huge emotional moment out of every instance of her final season. That was until she got blindsided by it on a very special night earlier this season.
“I always said I wouldn’t be one of those sentimental saps that got emotional over the last time I tied my shoes but I think after the
Not only is her season coming to a close but so is this chapter in her life. Along with the lessons she has learned. Two years ago she may not have been able to appreciate this year’s win over
“I try to keep in mind what’s best for the team. I don’t want to be selfish. If someone else can do a better job than I can, I will support them whole-heartedly as if I am the one out there
“I take a lot of pride in the role I played in our success. It has been a fun ride for four years. Being a part of the first
It’s the friends she has made that will last through time though. She knows the stats will fade. Netting her first career game-winner as a freshman versus NC State or playing versus UConn in the College Cup will always be special memories but it is the little stuff that will stick through the years.
“Ten years from now I won’t remember how many games I played in. What I will remember is spending Monday nights with the team at
“It isn’t any one big memory it is a collection of so many little fun memories. I will remember laughing all the time and these people, my teammates, have made me the person I am. Hopefully I will carry a little bit of each one of them with me when I move away and start to become an adult. That’s the stuff I will remember.”
Most importantly she will leave with peace of mind. She will leave
“I can honestly say I will not be disappointed when it does come to an end. I may not leave this program as the leading goal scorer but I will leave with a degree and knowing that I stuck it out for four years. I was a part of this program and I played in big games. That is as important to me.”