By ELIZABETH FINTO
Sports make up a large part of Mary Washington’s community and have a unique impact on the college experiences of athletes. The women’s soccer team is one team that is doing well this season. So far, they have played in seven games and scored 21 goals. Their record thus far stands at 6-0-1. As their season progresses, senior players look back at their time on the team.
Christina Carlston is a senior at Mary Washington, and has been a member of the UMW women’s soccer team for the last four years. She first started playing soccer when she was only five years old when her parents signed her up to play like many other parents do with their children.
“I never was able to grow out of the sport or let it go,” said Carlston.
She continued to play soccer all the way through high school. As she got older, her competitive streak started to come through more and more, and her life began to revolve around soccer.
“My dream had always been to compete and have the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. That being said I ultimately got recruited to come play [at UMW] and made my dream a reality,” said Carlston.
Being a part of this soccer team has truly changed Carlston’s life. She has met numerous people who have become her best friends. She began playing on the team as a freshman who did not know anyone and now she looks back on her experience as a senior and is so grateful for the relationships she has been able to make.
Although Carlston has loved being a part of the soccer team, she has also been met with some adversity. Before coming to play for UMW, she had never experienced any serious injuries. However, while playing for UMW, she has unfortunately had three major concussions that have caused her problems such as severe headaches and pain in her neck and back. Being a part of the team has also changed her life because she is now “incredibly susceptible” to other head injuries and trauma, which forces her to be very careful in the activities she takes part in.
Another challenge that Carlston faced was learning how to balance both school and soccer at the same time. During her freshman year, she struggled with the time constraints placed on her schedule. She has learned to eliminate procrastination as much as possible and to stay ahead of her work. She plans her weeks ahead of time and focuses on what assignments are most important, which in turn helps to alleviate any stress.
Carlston continues to love and play soccer while being inspired by her younger sister, Cori. Both Christina and Cori have played soccer their entire lives, and both have the same goals and aspirations when it comes to the competitive sport. Unfortunately, Cori sustained a career ending injury. Carlston saw her sister unable to play a sport they both love, and realized how difficult it is to not be able to do something you truly love. Cori has taught her that life challenges you sometimes, and it is possible to overcome those challenges.
“I will always strive to be as positive and strong willed as she is,” said Carlston.
Being a part of the UMW women’s soccer team has taught Christina lessons that she can bring with her on and off the soccer field.
“I’ve learned to think outside of myself, how to handle conflict, overcome difficult situations and enjoy some of the little moments that you won’t be able to get back,” said Carlston.
Soccer has been such a large part of her life, she is learning that there is more to life than soccer. She knows it will have to come to an end, but it is something she will hold with her forever.
Carlston reflected on her favorite memories from her playing career. One of them was when UMW beat Christopher Newport University in the CAC tournament semifinals her freshman year. Another one of her favorite memories is when UMW beat Salisbury her sophomore year. These two memories stand out to her because of the strong rivalries between the teams.
Carlston will definitely miss being a part of UMW’s soccer team. One major part she is going to miss is “the opportunity to go out daily and compete alongside [her] best friends in practices or games.”
“I am a super driven, competitive and passionate person so not having the opportunity to go compete everyday in a sport I love is going to be a hard adjustment especially since I’ve been doing it since I was five. I’m certainly going to miss being around a group of girls who have essentially become family as well. I spend 95% of my time with my team and not seeing them daily will be definitely missed,” said Carlston.
She will finish up her career at UMW within the next few weeks, as the women’s soccer team’s season progresses.