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What Does it Take to Become an All-Star Athlete?

Desiree Scott - Canada's Women's National Soccer Team

Whenever I watch a major sporting event I marvel at the amazing feats the human body can be pushed to do. I am in awe of the athletes that have managed to achieve such success. I know it takes talent and hard work to get to the national level, but what else? Could I ever push myself to that extreme? And how can I motivate my kids to believe in themselves and stay dedicated to their sports and activities (because my nagging to practice the piano doesn’t seem to be working)?

To learn more about what it takes to become a national Canadian Athlete, I spoke with Desiree Scott (also known as “the destroyer”), a midfielder for Canada’s Women’s National Soccer Team.

When did you first get into soccer?

DS: I started playing at the age of eight. The real reason I started playing was so I could hang out with my older brother more. He was already part of a team and getting really into it, so I would often join him in the backyard to practice. That’s when my parents decided to sign me up to my own team. Sports were encouraged in my family.

Did you always have a plan to make it to the National Team?

DS: In the beginning? No. I just started playing so my big brother would like me and play with me. He’s six years older, so I needed to do something to get his attention. But then I really started to like it and I was being told I was pretty good.

Was there ever a time that you thought about quitting?

DS: Of course. Everyone has doubts about their abilities from time to time, and it takes a lot of hard work to be good. Some days you wonder if it’s all worth it and if you should keep going.

What is it that keeps you going? 

DS: It’s a combination of things. If I had to name them, it would go as follows:

  1. A strong group of supporters: In addition to having some of the best coaches in my corner through my career, my family has always been there for the journey, cheering me along and supporting me in so many ways. They also saw things in me that I didn’t always see in myself, and whenever I would say I wanted to quit they would say “No, you’re good. Keep pushing.” They really had my back.
  2. Passion: I couldn’t work this hard for something I didn’t love to do. You have to pick a sport, or whatever it is – an instrument, or other activity, that you know you can get passionate about and run with it whole heartedly. If you don’t have a love for what you do, you won’t put your all in into it.
  3. Motivation: You need to find motivation within yourself. Some days you may want to quit or take it easy, but you need to have some inner self-belief and drive to keep it going. Not wanting to let the people in my life down was a big motivator for me. And then, being the lone women’s soccer player from Winnipeg made me want to prove that Winnipeg could do it. You have to believe that if you put the work in you can achieve your dreams, and that motivation comes from within.
  4. Hard work and dedication: Representing your country is a big deal. Not a lot of people get the opportunity to do this. It takes a real dedication to your craft. You need to be committed to hard work. There are nutrition programs that need to be followed diligently, and training and fitness programs that can’t be skipped. I’m the only one on the team who lives in Winnipeg so I have to push myself to stick to the training and sometimes it’s hard. It’s the work you do when no one is looking, but you know you’ve got to do it to achieve your goal and not let the team down. You have to be committed to the end goal.
  5. Sacrifice: Training as a team 10 months of the year means you need to make sacrifices – it might mean missing a graduation ceremony or not going to the big party everyone is talking about. You have to stick to you training plan no matter what. But hopefully those sacrifices pay off in the end.

Any last words of advice? 

DS: The journey to representing your country is not an easy one. But when you are passionate enough and vision clear about what you’re doing and where you want to go, the ups and downs become part of the story and make accomplishing your goal that much sweeter. I encourage everyone to follow their hearts to where ever it may lead and never forget that the hard work  to get there always pays off. Dream big!

What do you think? How do you keep yourself going to meet a goal?

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