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.

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