This was posted on SheJumps.org on April 19.
I haven’t slung some words together for a SheJumps blog in a while. This is about the Circle of life, and how our combined love for sports and the outdoors intertwines us all in a beautiful way.
For 19 years I gave my heart to soccer! It was my passion and my dream was to get a scholarship to play at a top collegiate program. I did it. I played for the University of Washington on a magical team that was ranked No. 2 in the country at one point, and won the first and only PAC-10 Championship for the school (now it’s PAC-12, so that feat can’t technically happen again). After college, I stopped playing soccer competitively to pursue other dreams, but it’s been a joy to watch my co-captain in college, Hope Solo, rise to be one of the top goal keepers in the world.
Last night I had dinner with a couple of college teammates, including Hope’s best friend from childhood, Cheryl Hirss. I haven’t talked to Cheryl in years, but to be able to pick up where we left off was so fun. Cheryl and I went through a lot in college, from dealing with playing time, winning AND losing, getting yelled at by our coaches for poor performances, having to balance soccer and school, having wild parties and then dealing with fitness tests the next day. Eight years ago, I called her and said, “Cheryl, come live in Aspen with me.” She said yes, and I drove up to Seattle to pick her up and bring her back to my then home, Aspen. After eight years, she and her husband are moving back to Washington state, but as they drove through Salt Lake City, they looked me up. Cheryl said it was only appropriate to stop in to say hi as she moved on…as I was the one to convince her to move to Colorado. Circle of life.
We haven’t spoken for years, but she found me through SheJumps. Cheryl, who doesn’t have Facebook, hasn’t been able to follow my life path and over the years we lost contact. She was reminded that I live in SLC when she talked to her friend, Carla Von Trapp in Aspen who has been a chapter leader for SheJumps. She told Cheryl I now lived in SLC (as I’ve moved around since Aspen), and that’s how Cheryl was able to look me up. It makes me realize the magic SheJumps has on the world, even in small ways. In 2008, Lynsey Dyer, Claire Smallwood, and I created what we thought was a tribe of friends—but it has grown to so much more. Friends, connections, programs, events, parties… it’s a 501c3 nonprofit and business for the three of us, but more importantly it’s the fabric that connects our dreams. It’s made of people that live life to the fullest and support friends dreams in the making. I wish I had SheJumps when I was younger pursing soccer, but it’s a funny world that I have SheJumps now and it brings me back to soccer. Circle of life.
I haven’t played soccer nor been to my alumni soccer game in years, but I’m going to play this year. It’s a small jump, but I’m going to try playing again. I urge you SheJumpers to get involved and meet new people in our tribe because they know other people who may help you connect with past friends, try something new, gain a new friend, find support to take on a dream. Our tribe is special, it connects us, and helps us take opportunities when life presents them. Who knows, maybe I will enjoy playing again and try out for the semi-pro team in SLC. Who knows, but why not take a jump to see what just might happen? Circle of life. —Vanessa Pierce, SJ co-founder