Carlin Hudson: Yale Women's Soccer

Last week, I played my last soccer game for Yale. My four years here as an athlete have been filled with a whirlwind of emotion.  

I came in as a walk-on. I did not know my college years were going to be filled with athletics, and yet now it does not seem like my college experience could have been anything else. Before even stepping foot on campus, I was thrust into friendships with 30 girls. It was intimidating and nerve-wracking, especially as a walk-on, when all of the other recruited freshmen had met each other and the older girls on their official visits. However, when you spend that much time with people, it does not take long to become fast friends.

 

The soccer side of things was not going amazing at first, since I was so scared to make a mistake and already felt inferior to my teammates due to my walk-on status. I remember calling my dad crying about how poorly I was playing, and remember him telling me that if I hate it, I can always quit since I owe them nothing. I’ve never been much of a quitter so I kept sticking it out, and I’m so glad that I did. I earned my starting role through a bit of luck, when our starting outside back got hurt, and I was picked to replace her. I think that transmission of trust in my abilities to step up boosted my play and I ended up keeping the starting spot. My first year flew by, and before I knew it I had a season under my belt.

I worked so hard the summer before sophomore year to make sure that I was coming in better than last year in order to really secure my position and I felt great in preseason and heading into our first game. However, 40 minutes into the game, I went into a tackle and felt my knee shift positions and pop. It was one of the more devastating moments I had experienced because I knew what that meant: that all my hard work over the summer was for naught, that I was going to miss the entire season, and that I had a long road ahead of me. I relearned what it meant to be a teammate and relearned my role on the team, supporting from the sideline and trying not to miss playing too much. However, looking back on it, the injury revived my love for a sport that I had played nonstop since I was 5 years old, and the break only reaffirmed how much I cared about soccer.

With a newfound passion for my sport, I took on junior and senior years with a different type of determination. I began playing more aggressively and every game I gave everything I could, knowing that the amount of time I had left to play this sport that I realized was so important to me was running out.  After junior year I was voted captain, and put everything that I had into the team for my last season.  I wanted us to succeed and I wanted to make everyone’s experiences as positive as possible and leave the team with a plethora of incredible memories for the years to come, and wanted to make a positive impact on the program that would only continue to improve the team.

Although I cared so much about every game we played and my desire to win was crippling at times, the true takeaway from my college soccer experience were all of the friendships I gained. I have grown so much because of the women I was surrounded by every day for the past 4 years, and for that I thank Yale Women’s Soccer and will owe the program forever.  It consistently blows my mind that our coach single-handedly had a decision over who my best friends will be for the rest of my life. Through all of the ups and downs of every season, I have been able to experience and share the rawest of emotions with these women, and it has bonded us more than I could have ever hoped.  As competitive as I am, I would not trade an Ivy League championship for these friendships, and I thought I wanted a championship more than anything.  However, these bonds that I’ve been so lucky to form will stay with me for the rest of my life, and are the most important things to have emerged from my time as a college athlete.  I am so glad that I was able to have this experience and am devastated to see it go, but I know that my relationships will stay strong for the rest of my life.