Every year each Big Ten institution awards a male and female student-athlete with a Medal of Honor. First awarded in 1915, the conference’s most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. This week each of Ohio State’s ten Big Ten Medal of Honor finalists will be sharing their experiences as Buckeyes and what led them to become the outstanding student-athletes they are today.
April 17, 2017 I was 16 years old when I committed to play soccer at Ohio State. During the recruiting process, I looked for schools that were strong both academically and athletically. I also wanted to go to a big school, where I could have the complete college experience. When it came down to the final decision, I just couldn’t see myself calling the Ohio State coaches and saying no. Since then, Ohio State has come to mean so much more to me than just an academic institution or a sports team. My teammates have become like family and I have created memories to last a lifetime. Ohio State is a community filled with great people who truly want to help you succeed. Being a student athlete here gives you access to what seems like endless resources, and it allows you to meet so many different people.
Much like many others, my journey getting me to where I am today has had many ups and downs. The day before I was supposed to report for preseason in my freshman year, one of my closest friends passed away. I will never forget sitting at the funeral and looking up to see my whole team and coaching staff walking into the church in their Ohio State track suits. I hadn’t even met most of them at that time, but I think that it says volumes about the character of the people at Ohio State, and what it means to be a Buckeye. I ended up joining the team a couple of weeks later and starting the season. Unfortunately, I broke my ankle about a month later, which sidelined me for most of my freshman season. Despite some of these challenges, I continued to pursue my academics and focused on recovering from my injury. After surviving my first spring season, I was asked to play in the FIFA U20 World Cup with my national team. I also met a lot of great people who helped me get through the tough times, many of whom are still my best friends to this day (shout-out to Morrison Tower Dorm).
Over the next few years, I tried to take advantage of the various opportunities available at Ohio State. I volunteered for community service programs, such as Run the Race and also took part in Buckeye-a-thon. In May of my sophomore year, I participated in a study abroad program in Queensland, Australia with a group of Ohio State students studying sustainability. The following May, I went to Jamaica, with ten other student athletes from different sports teams, for a Buck-I-Serve service trip partnered with a nonprofit organization called Soles4Souls. On the soccer side of things, my team made it to the NCAA tournament three out of my four years, which was highlighted by making it to the Sweet 16 in my junior year. My senior year was the year I had the most personal success. I was voted Captain by my teammates, I tied for first in points in the Big 10 Conference, and I scored my first hat-trick. I was also called into my first full-team national camp and was drafted to the NWSL to play professional soccer. Post graduation, I will be playing professional soccer for the Washington Spirit. I am also planning on pursuing an MBA within the next couple years, so that I can continue to learn about how a business’s economic success can be driven by positive environmental and social change.
I would like to say thank you to my family. Thank you to my dad for building nets in the backyard and putting on the hockey gloves to be my goalkeeper (sorry about all the broken siding). He has always encouraged me to go after my dreams and has been such an amazing role model to look up to. Thank you to my brother, Brett, for teaching me how to do a pull-up and letting his baby sister play sports with him and his friends when we were growing up (even if they did knock out my front teeth). He has always stood up for me and has taught me to enjoy the moment because the sacrifices are worth it. Thank you to my mom for being the wind beneath my wings and taking me to every practice, game, and tournament. She has literally flown all over the world to support me and her ‘rose-colored glasses’ have always given me the confidence to believe in myself and be successful.
Next, I would like to thank all my teammates and coaches, it has been a true honor to represent Ohio State with them. They have made these past four years some of the best times of my life, and they challenged me to be better every day. I would also like to give a shout-out to my senior class specifically. They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Out of the six others in my class, one is an Olympic bronze medalist playing professional soccer, one is the SAAC president and is going on to Law School in the fall, one has recovered from a lacerated kidney and is going on to play professional soccer, two have accepted jobs at Fortune 500 companies, and one has already started her coaching career with a NCAA Division I soccer program. I think anyone would be lucky to be described as the average of those six ambitious women.
Finally, thank you to everyone I have met at Ohio State. I am so lucky to have had all the academic, athletic, and community service opportunities at this school. However, the thing that stands out the most and makes this place so special, is its people. I will forever be proud to say I was an Ohio State student athlete. Go Bucks!