June 13th Featured Athlete: Bri Kim

Name: Bri Kim
Sport: Rugby
Level Played: USA Rugby Women’s All-Americans (U-23 National Team pool, vice-captained U-20 team in 2014)
Position: Scrumhalf
Team: Northern Virginia Women’s Rugby Club (NOVA), University of Virginia Class of 2015 alum

If you had one piece of advice to give to a young female athlete, what would it be?

Don’t limit yourself to one sport too early, pursue every sport you learn to love and appreciate. Nowadays it seems that young athletes everywhere are burning themselves out because they feel they need to be ultra-competitive and eat-sleep- breathe one sport at the age of 10 so they can aspire to play collegiately or professionally. Athletes who played multiple sports growing up are often the most successful down the road- there’s no need to create unnecessary pressures so early on in adolescence.

How important is the mental/psychological game in sports?

Mentality drives the physical talent of an athlete to perform. Without the proper mentality, an athlete cannot consistently perform and succeed. It is imperative to understand early on that there are things that we cannot control as athletes, and we must make do with what we can control- our attitudes and efforts. Also, visualization should be a part of every athlete’s routine. Visualizing yourself going through the perfect motions- whether it’s a textbook tackle or a pass to a teammate to set them up for a try, instills greater confidence and translates to tangible success on the field. Training your mind to go through the highs and lows of the sport is just as critical as training your body through the highs and lows.

What makes a strong female athlete?

If I had to describe a strong female athlete in one word, it would be gritty. Angela Duckworth just released a book called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, a book I would highly recommend and is applicable in any setting in life. She defines grit as passion and perseverance for especially long term goals. I believe that no athlete is strong without both passion and perseverance. You can be passionate about something, but if you lack the drive to continue pushing yourself to the next level, you won’t get better, and vice versa. Grit combined with talent and mentality, in my eyes, is what makes a successful, strong female athlete.

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How has failure played a part in your training and your career? How has it helped you to succeed?

Failure is such a crucial aspect of defining an elite athlete. If you’re not close to failure, you aren’t being sufficiently challenged. Great athletes are separated from the rest by how they respond to and overcome failure. The most obvious and common examples of failure would be losing an important game or not making the cut for a roster, while a smaller example could be failing to make the interval times for a sprint workout or a fitness test. It is so important to become familiar with all types of failure so that when a similar obstacle arises during an important moment in a match or in life, you are able to react more favorably and successfully than before.

Failures teach us humility, and help us identify specific weaknesses so that we can reassess priorities and redirect our focus to accomplish feats. All athletes have strengths, but elite athletes are able to pinpoint weaknesses that have made them fail before, that they can focus on and improve at so they are strong in every aspect possible. All failures, big and small, have helped me to become more resilient and taught me important lessons to take away and utilize in the future. Without these failures, I would have no experience in facing and overcoming adversity to reach true success.

Tell us about your life now and how being involved in sports has shaped who you are today.

Like many rugby players in the US today, I just happened upon rugby in college because I was burnt out from soccer and swimming but knew I wanted to be a part of a competitive club team when starting out college. Quickly garnering a love for the sport and having some unexpected success, I knew I wanted to continue playing after college to try to play at the international level. That takes me to where I am today- working full time for a biotech startup and training when I’m not working. Unfortunately, there is no professional rugby league for women in the US (US professional men’s rugby just started this year!), so it’s not easy to make a living by playing and training for rugby full time.

Regardless, rugby and the other sports I played growing up have showed me what it’s like to have an incredible passion for something, and how far you will go to pursue a dream. Beyond the sport itself, being an athlete has taught me how to extend and apply values I’ve learned from sports to my other passion- science. I aspire to go to medical school in the future, and weirdly enough, being an athlete has helped cultivate that drive and focus I have and will certainly need to pursue that dream.

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Being involved in rugby specifically has opened up incredible doors and pathways. I have played many sports growing up and have never found one as unique and close-knit as rugby. The rugby community is amazing in that every player, no matter what team, country, race, age, or gender you are from, has the utmost respect for every other rugby player. Everlasting connections are made day in and day out, and the support you receive from a fellow rugby enthusiast is inspiring. Being a part of rugby, and sports more generally, has instilled in me lifelong qualities that would’ve taken me much longer to develop without sports, and appreciation for every success and failure I may face.

 

May 26th Featured Athlete

Name: Joanna Lohman
Sport: Soccer
Level Player: Professional
Position: Midfield
Team: Washington Spirit (NWSL)

1. If you had one piece of advice to give to a young female athlete, what would it be?

Appreciate the journey – The process of getting better every day. If you can find joy in the pursuit of excellence, you will be unstoppable. The journey will have both ups and downs but each are equally important in establishing character and resiliency. Regardless of who or what you become, you will be built for success.

2. How important is the mental/psychological game in sports?

It is extremely important. Believing you can do something is half the battle. Confidence within yourself and your team can take you to the next level. Also, in sports, like all of life, you have to focus on what you can control and that is your own focus, attitude and effort. True competition is against oneself and the goal is not to best the other person but to best ourselves. Striving to be your best self is the ultimate purpose and identifying how you get there is absolutely key.

3. Tell us about your life now and how being involved in sports has shaped who you are today.

I love my life with every ounce of my being. I believe I have the best job in the world where I get to do what I love every day with a platform to impact. I get to work as a part of a team to achieve goals that are worthwhile and fulfilling. All the while, I get to connect with fans who are extremely passionate and look up me. I will never get tired of being asked to take a picture or for an autograph. I am incredibly lucky.

Sport has shaped my life in ways I cannot fully express. It has taught me essential characteristics like leadership, management, sportsmanship, goal setting, determination, grit, and so many more. I have learned how to lose, fall down, and not let it destroy me. I know that I can survive whatever life may throw at me and that gives me an immense amount of confidence to achieve my dreams.

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Photo Credit: Ashley J. Palmer

4. Do you think there are positive role models for young athletes? If yes, who and why? If no, why not?

Yes, there are many positive role models for young athletes. This day and age, you can turn on the TV, pick up a newspaper, search the internet and find all sorts of athletes doing incredible things and pushing boundaries. It is also important to realize that even super star athletes are human – they too will lose, fail, make mistakes and this is a very important lesson to learn. No one is perfect. No one. No matter how many championships one has won, we are all just striving for love and acceptance.

May 13th Featured Athlete

Name: DiDi Haracic
Sport: Soccer
Level Player: Professional
Position: Goalkeeper
Team: Washington Spirit (NWSL)

1.If you had one piece of advice to give to a young female athlete what would it be?

The advice I would give to young female athletes is the advice I received from my dad who passed away. “Be yourself, work hard, and keep it simple”. You are who you are, accept it and don’t let anyone tell you to be something you’re not. You will perform better if you’re yourself and relaxed. Secondly, many do not know what it takes to get to where I have gotten. When I say hard work, I mean it. Training twice a day, every day, for months just because I love what I do and know that I will not settle for average. Average will not get you to the professional level in my opinion. Long hours, hard work, obstacles and determination will make you the person you are. I continue to work as hard as I can on my game in order to be the best.

2. How important is the mental/psychological game in sports?

I believe the mental side of sports is very important to the physical, technical and tactical part of the game. The mental side of sports is being focused day in and day out on the task ahead. Each category requires a focused state of mind. Technically, as a field player your touch can be off and not close to the body. In my case, as a goalkeeper, I may be dropping balls that I know I should be holding on to. Tactically, I may not be in the right position when dealing with a shot, cross and/or corner kick. As I said previously, there must be a clear state of mind.

Photo Credit: Stewart Small MD Soccerplex, Germantown, MD

Photo Credit: Stewart Small
MD Soccerplex, Germantown, MD

 

As a female athlete we deal with obstacles outside of soccer. Once you cross those lines on the pitch, your mind must be focused on that task in that moment. I love what I do, it’s my job to improve and get better day in and day out. If I am not mentally focused, I will not get to where I want to be.

3. What makes a strong female athlete?

A strong female athlete is someone who takes action and responsibility when they know they have done something right or wrong. Someone who sets goals and does whatever they can, to accomplish those goals in order to succeed and be the best they can be. Someone who physically and mentally does not let obstacles affect her. Lastly, a strong female is someone who learns from the obstacles she overcomes throughout her journey in life.

4. How has being involved in sports shaped who you are today?

Being in sports teaches you a lot about life. It has taught me how to work with people on and off the field. Everyone is different; we need to respect one another’s differences and work together in order to succeed. Sports have taught me how to not panic in hectic situations. For instance, I have noticed that when I am in goal and getting pounded on with shots, I know that I must be calm and collected, because if my defense notices that I am nervous and panicky, they will vibe off of that which may result in a goal. Sports are so vital to the younger generations. One of my favorite quotes by John Wooden (Legendary UCLA Basketball Coach) stated “Sports do not build character. They reveal it”. Your true colors come out when you are competing for something you love. I am honored to continue to live my dream doing what I love. I wake up every morning knowing that I cannot take things for granted. I have been gifted with a great talent that I want to put to good use.

March 26th Featured Athlete

Featuring: Becky Sauerbrunn
Sport: Soccer
Level Player: Professional, International
Team: US Women’s National Team and FC Kansas City

1. If you had one piece of advice to give to a young female athlete, what would it be?

I would give the piece of advice I wish I had heard when I was younger—own who you are or who you think you are. It’s difficult being a young female athlete. There are external pressures placed on female athletes that are dictated by society and by peers. There are internal pressures placed on one’s self relating to expectations and aspirations. It’s a lot to deal with when you’re at a time in your life where you’re trying to figure out what type of person you are and what you place value in. I would tell a young female athlete to be honest with herself and ask for help when help is needed. No one should know how to do everything when their young, and I feel like many athletes give up on their sport prematurely or don’t train every facet of their sport because they’re ashamed to ask for help. Something gets to be too hard, too difficult, and instead of asking for guidance they quit. Society asks for perfection, we demand perfection of ourselves, and it’s unfair. It’s the obstacles on your journey that make you great, and struggling is a necessity.

2. How important is the mental/psychological game in sports?

I’d say mentality is equally as important as the physical, technical, and tactical side of sports. Four perfect quarters to make up a complete athlete. All four facets rely on one another, you can’t have one without the other. The mental part of the game, to me, is never losing focus on why you’re competing. I love playing soccer, it’s a passion of mine, it gives me a sense of accomplishment every time I step on the field. If I take those emotions with me every day to work I know that I’ll be present, motivated, and resilient. And when I’m those things I know the other parts of the game will follow soon behind.

Carson, CA - January 18, 2016: The USWNT train during their January camp at StubHub Center. Image Credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com
Carson, CA – January 18, 2016: The USWNT train during their January camp at StubHub Center.
Image Credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com

3. What makes a strong female athlete?

A strong female athlete is someone who owns up to their successes and their failures. Someone who accomplishes a goal and immediately asks ‘what’s next?’ Someone who can take adversity and learn from the struggle. A strong female athlete asks questions. She asks questions of society and the state of things. She asks questions of herself. She constantly wants to get better. She leaves a legacy behind that young athletes want to emulate. She identifies herself as more than just an athlete. She loves her body because she knows strength and power are beautiful things.

4. How has failure played a part in your training and your career? How has it helped you to succeed?

After playing twice for the US Women’s National team I was dropped from the roster. I had lived my dream for a time and had it taken away. I had been given a glimpse of the level I wanted to be at with no certainty that I would ever make it back. I had to ask myself what I was willing to do to make it back, what I was willing to sacrifice. It took two and a half years of training my heart out and playing through all my frustrations before I got another chance. And I was a long-shot for making the team. I was asked to attend a training camp as a last second fill-in for an injured player. I took my chance and made the most of it. Because I struggled for years to get that opportunity I acquired such an appreciation for the chance to play. I have never lost that sense of appreciation. It keeps me humble and motivated, two things that have helped me succeed at the highest level.

March 13th Featured Athlete

Featuring: Jordan Angeli
Sport: Soccer
Level Player: Professional
College: Santa Clara University
Teams: Washington Spirit

1. How do you feel about the way female athletes are portrayed in the media?

I think there have been great steps taken in the way female athletes are portrayed in the media…do I think we still have far to go? Absolutely. I think the challenge with this lies in us too. Am I proud to be an athlete, the rough tough not so pretty side of sweat and tears? You better believe it. But do I also like to show my feminine side, dress up and feel like a girl? Yes. What I think is hard is merging these two ideas. I think it is also a great advantage we have as females. We can be tough/athletic and also feminine/beautiful at the same time or at completely different times. Is there an issue when we are constantly only portraying the prettiest or skinniest athletes in different forms of media (TV commercials and print ads). There lies the issue. Men in athletics hardly have to deal with the idea if they are “handsome enough”, but females do. If you aren’t “pretty enough” you won’t get the sponsorship you could very well deserve solely due to that fact. I just don’t believe men in sports have to deal with those same issues. This needs to change. By valuing the athletic abilities of someone over their looks, this is where the media could help improve stereotypes on what a male or female athlete looks like…every single person on this planet is different, so it’s time we recognize that with how we market to society in the media.

2. Do you think there are positive role models for young athletes to look up to? If yes, who? If no, why not?

There are hundreds of positive female role models for young athletes to look up to. The problem is, a lot of these female athletes are not given the exposure in the media that male athletes are. Men athletes are talked about on ESPN or FOX Sports 1…but what about the female athletes who donate their time at children’s hospitals, who have started their own non-profit organizations, who volunteer to coach teams as a mentor. I can name so many women that I would be proud for my future kids to look up to. My hope is by the time I have kids who are searching for their role models, the TV will be plastered with stories of all the great ways the women in the NWSL, and other leagues, are contributing to society.Spirit Team

3. If you had one piece of advice to give to a young female athlete, what would it be?

My advice would be to be true to yourself. You are you for a reason, and that is a great person to be. Strive to be the best woman you can be…strong, dedicated, supportive, faithful, genuine, weird, grateful and kind. When you deny the world of who you really are, you will only be hurting yourself and that process can be painful. Be you. And appreciate the same qualities in others.

4. How important is the mental/psychological game in sports?

To me, this is the most important side of the game. You will never accomplish what you desire without having mental toughness. Read books, visualize yourself succeeding, and create affirmations that re-focus you to positive thoughts during tough situations. The more you keep your brain in shape, the easier you can get through tough situations.

5. How strong are you? and how do stereotypical images of what the female body should look like make you feel? Do you think you would feel or act differently if those stereotypes did not exist?

Well if you saw my little legs, it doesn’t look like I am strong. But I think I am a very strong person. I think that is the coolest part of strength…everyone can be strong in their own way. As a soccer player, I always wanted to “look stronger.” I am tall and not very muscular so I would always look at my teammates and wish I had their calves or arms or abs. I don’t really think that’s the stereotype we get in the media. We see a lot of females who are skinny modeling athletic gear. However, I realize that we are all human. In one way or another, we all want what we don’t have. I learned to love my strong and lean frame for all the hard work it was able to perform day in and day out.

6. What makes a strong female athlete?

Confidence and belief in oneself.

I am not talking about a overly confident “I am better than you” attitude. I am talking about a belief in your ability to push yourself, to accomplish what you dream of, to challenge the standards, and the confidence to pick yourself up when you, and others (your teammates), fall short. Belief is an x-factor. Something only you can take away from yourself. What made me strong was my belief in myself was unwavering. I never was out there to prove people wrong, I was always out there to prove to myself that I could. I believed in me and my “why” for playing more then others didn’t believe in me. If you can find this, you will feel your true strength. A strength that is beyond the weights…a strength in who you are.JordanAngeli Pull Up Tshirt

7. Describe a moment that has defined your success as an athlete. What attributes/characteristics were most important to your success?

My career was blessed with many highlights. Experiences I never thought I, little ol’ Jordan Angeli from Lakewood, Colorado, would get to be a part of. I will never talk those down but I think my success as an athlete is defined by my resilience and persistence to pursue my dreams in the face of adversity. I was not given the challenge of overcoming 1 ACL injury, I was given the challenge of overcoming 3…all on the same knee. When the 3rd injury happened, I not only cried because I knew what I had done, I cried because I knew what I might have to give up. My first love – soccer. I took my time rehabbing making sure everything was right and I would be able to be a mobile person again let alone a soccer player. I never took the idea of getting back on the field out of my mind but I knew it was a long stretch…especially at the highest level available for women professionally in the US. But with belief, persistence, and faith in the plan God had me on, I made it back to the field, playing in the NWSL and scoring a goal in my 2nd season back against the best goalkeeper in the world. Never give up on what you believe your path is. That is what I believe defines my success as an athlete.

8. How has failure played a part in your training and career? How has it helped you to succeed?

Failure. I really don’t look at failure the way the world seems to. I always have seen the growth in the process of failing. From a missed shot in training to losing a game, there is always something to improve. How do I find success in this shooting technique so I don’t keep sailing my shots over the crossbar? How do I study the opposing team in order to shut down their midfield and not lose the game the way we did last time? Is it failure if you don’t accomplish something the first, second, third time? No way. It is only failure if you choose not to try. It is your choice in how you respond to failure, and I chose to use it to learn and get better every day.

9. How do you feel about the color pink commonly being associated with female athletic apparel?

Honestly, I haven’t thought about this before. I think Pink is a color that represents many things, one of those being Breast Cancer awareness. I was always a fan of when we got to wear pink jerseys and action them off for awareness because it made me feel like we were helping others through our support, physically and financially. I think apparel has changed so much in the last few years that there is always a plethora of color choices for whatever you are looking for. I think if you choose to buy and wear pink apparel that is great because you have that choice. And if pink weren’t a color females wanted to wear, they wouldn’t buy it and then companies wouldn’t sell the color choice. To me that is all personal opinion.

10. Do you think an equality issue still exists between men’s and women’s sports? If so, what are the most glaring inequalities, and how to we bridge this gap?

There are huge inequalities between men’s and women’s sports and I hope that we can continue to knock down the barriers that lie between the sports. The hardest part is advertising money through different media outlets especially television. This is where the catch-22 comes in…companies don’t want to spend advertising money on teams/female sports unless they are filling thousands of seats/have TV exposure (not filling seats but getting thousands of impressions with every game/race/match). However, without the exposure on TV and the sponsors, how will anyone ever know we are out there working just as hard (if not harder) then men athletes to play our sports. In order to bridge the gap of the financial differences between genders, we have to get people to come watch us play, we have to get consistent TV exposure on big networks, and we have to produce a product on the field that is worthy for all that exposure. Lastly, we have to support one another. We need to promote one another on game days by going to WNBA games, NWHL games, golfing events, tennis matches, etc. We need the biggest names in our sport to promote the ones who are doing just as great things but not getting the exposure. Really truly having each other’s backs, supporting each other in our passions on and off the field. If we don’t have each other’s backs, how do we expect the rest of the country/world to support us.

11. Tell us about your life now and how being involved in sports has shaped who you are today.

Life now is much different then it has been in the last 20 years. I recently hung up my boots for good, feeling proud and satisfied about how much I learned, accomplished, and all the lives I got to be a part of in my career. I am now continuing to chase my dreams in the form of sports broadcasting. I was blessed with the opportunity to experience the highs and lows of professional athletics…I appreciate athlete’s stories about how they got to the highest level and what they overcame to get there. I want to help share these stories with the world and bring light to some of the greatest stories in sports. This is a dream I have had for a long time, and just like my dream to be a professional soccer player, I will relentlessly pursue it because I know how amazing it is to live out something you are passionate about.Foundertheaclclub

Soccer has taught me so many lessons throughout my relationship with the sport: persistence, humility, integrity, patience, acceptance, determination, and passion. I know these core values I have learned will benefit me in all the areas I hope to excel in in life (relationship, family, motherhood, and business). I will forever be grateful for the sport of soccer and the person it molded me to be.

12. Anything else you would like to add.

I recently started a company to help those going through or who have gone through an ACL injury. As I mentioned, I spent 4 years of my life rehabilitating from my 3 ACL injuries and was enlightened to some amazing truths in the process:

  1. If you have torn your ACL, you are so supportive to people who are going through the process currently. You want to help and inspire them in their journey. Also, whenever you see someone with similar scars on their knee, you are automatically bonded to them, appreciating and knowing they have overcome what you have too.
  2. You go to physical therapy multiple times a week, working your body back into shape, but there is nothing out there to support you in the mental battles that come up.

For these reasons, I wanted to bring together this community of people in a special, concrete way.

theACLclub is an exclusive club in sports bringing together a community to support, empower, and inspire athletes in persevering through the challenges and triumphs of the ACL journey.

If you have torn your ACL or know someone who has, spread the word so we can all be proud to show our scars and share the strength we have gained in the process with one another.

February 26th Featured Athlete

Featuring: Sara Escobedo
Sport: Soccer
Position: Goal Keeper
Level Played: Division II, California Baptist University

1. If you had one piece of advice to give to a young female athlete, what would it be?

Don’t let anything or anyone get in the way of your desires. You are capable of more than you think you are. Any piece of criticism you get is that person’s opinion so do not let that define you. I know this is super cliché, but keep working hard and never give up because you can and will achieve your goals.

2. How has failure played a part in your training and career? How has it helped you to succeed?

Naturally I am a very competitive person so failure is taken pretty seriously. Failing sucks, but the ability to learn from mistakes is one of the best skills you can have. This is a huge part of my training: constantly drilling techniques over and over again, trying to correct every little detail, so ideally the concept will become second nature to me. And no matter how mentally and physically painful it is, it’s the price you pay for being an athlete, and consequently, a perfectionist.

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3. How do you feel about the color pink commonly being associated with female athletic apparel?

Personally I hate the color pink. My favorite color is black actually. The color association has been this way for forever and I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon. I definitely think pink should be an option, however, it shouldn’t be the main color scheme of the majority of the clothes in athletic stores.

4. Tell us about your life now and how being involved in sports has shaped who you are today.

Being involved in sports has definitely made a huge impact on the person I am today. Soccer is my main sport but I also played basketball and volleyball for a few years here and there so I got to get some different perspectives on different sports. Soccer has been a huge part of my life since I was 4 and now that I play in college, it practically is my life. This sport alone has taught me so much and has helped me so much. Honestly, if playing a sport for as long as I have doesn’t shape you as an individual than you’re doing something wrong. Probably the most important thing that soccer has given me are the amazing friendships I have made over the years.image4


February 13th Featured Athlete

Featuring: Lori Lindsey
Sport: Soccer
Position: Mid-Fielder
Level Played: Professional (13 year injury-free professional career), U.S Women’s National Team
Website: http://www.lorilindsey.us

1.Do you think there are positive role models for young athletes to look up to? If yes, who? If no, why not?

Absolutely. The sport of soccer itself has a ton of positive role models – look at the U.S. women’s national soccer team who just won the 2015 Women’s World Cup. All of these women are dedicated to their craft of being the best they can be on the field, but they are also very well-rounded women who are educated and speak up about issues pertaining to equality and women’s right. All qualities that I believe any young female athletes would want to emulate.

2. If you had one piece of advice to give to a young female athlete, what would it be?

Take care of your most important weapon: your body. Too many athletes wait until it’s too late to start focusing on this.

It’s an exciting time for young female athletes to be involved in sport as there are so many opportunities for them to participate. However, due to the increase of the digital era and decrease of physical education and overall general play – many of these athletes are thrown into situations without preparation.

We are seeing more and more injuries, especially at earlier ages, due to burnout, over involvement, and sport specificity. With that said, my advice for female athletes is to strength train.

Lori KB

The benefits of strength training (i.e. improved athleticism and injury prevention) are not limited to just the field – It’s self esteem, confidence, and empowerment that one gains from her new found strength that will carry over in to all aspects of her life.

3. What makes a strong female athlete?

A strong female athlete is one who is strong on the field and is dedicated to master her sport, but who is also strong off the field, using the skills she’s learning on the field and applying them off the field.

4. How has failure played a part in your training and career? How has it helped you to succeed?

Lori USWNTIt’s taught me to focus on the things I can control. The outcome of my goals might not pan out the way I want or expected, but I have the choice to continue to pursue my goals and attack them in another way. Focusing on small progress and enjoying the journey is in my control.

5. Tell us about your life now and how being involved in sports has shaped who you are today.

I am a strength coach at Ambitious Athletics in Washington, DC. We train everyone from the general population to young athletes. To me, coaching is the next best thing to playing as I get to “pay it forward” to all the people who helped me throughout my career. Plus, I still get to be a part of a team which was my favorite aspect of playing team sports. I believe my dedication to being the best I could be and my curiosity about soccer and the game is what made me successful. I use these qualities everyday in coaching.Lori Training