My love affair with soccer began when I was five years old. I’m the daughter of German immigrants and my dad played semi-pro soccer in Germany, so it’s in my blood. I played off and on through adolescence. As a female, I didn’t always have the opportunity to play when I was younger. My high school didn’t have a girl’s team until my senior year. My college didn’t have a women’s team until after I graduated (Go Gamecocks!).
When I moved back to my hometown of San Diego after college, there was a lot more opportunity for women to play, so I haven’t stopped since. Now, pushing 50, I play on three soccer teams.
I’ve dabbled in a lot of different sports along the way–golf, pickleball, mountain biking (not the best idea for a klutz!), ping pong, tennis, football. Some I excel in, others not so much! But I never pass up an opportunity to try something new. It’s part of what keeps us truly alive.
Several years ago, I managed military and public safety sales for a diving equipment manufacturer and had the opportunity to jump out of helicopter straight into the ocean (photo is on left). I was scared out of my mind, but knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t do it. It was frightening and exhilarating all at the same time and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Sometimes it’s been intimidating to try a new sport or join a new team. I’ve worried I won’t be any good, or I’ll be the odd one out on a team that’s already formed friendships. But if I let those thoughts stop me, I would have missed out on so much. I’ve formed friendships with such a diverse group of people from all walks of life.
Sports have helped me through some dark times in my life, both as a release and for the surrounding support of my teammates. The camaraderie is irreplaceable.
I encourage anyone, regardless of age or skill, to at least try if you are curious about a sport or activity. If it’s not your thing after you try, so be it. But if it is, you may have just found one of the best things of your life. After all, it’s never too late to grow up and play!
Tanja (pronounced Tanya fyi)
P.S. If you have any questions or comments, please email me.