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From the Soccer Field to the Racecourse

By Alexis Matthiesen-Johnson

Laney Green was four years old when she first stepped out onto the soccer field for practice. While other kids were picking flowers, Laney was running around the field, always chasing the ball. Fast-forward 17 years, when the whistle blew to end the final game of her collegiate career, Laney burst into tears. Despite having accepted the fact that the season was over, and even being ready to be done in a sense, it was still a shock to her that it was finally over. Reflecting on her collegiate soccer career, she found herself grateful for the experience and proud to have finished it. Throughout her four years competing in soccer at Linfield University, Laney developed many valuable skills that carry over to her life and future endeavors.

Flexibility – in learning how to set up timelines and manage a schedule with all her involvement.

Leadership – in being selected as a captain senior year, and growing throughout the years.

Communication – in learning how to communicate with teammates effectively and kindly, both on and off the field.

Although Laney’s collegiate soccer career is now over, the sport is far from out of her life. In just a few weeks, Laney will compete in her first soccer game from the alumni side against next year’s team. She is also considering joining an indoor team or adult league in the next few years just for fun. “It’s been a big part of my life and brought me so much joy” Laney said when asked about her future with the sport. At first, Laney found herself feeling sad to have lost something that was a part of her life for so long. But allowing herself to be emotional about it drew her to start training for another sport – triathlons.

After her season ended in November, Laney wasted no time getting back into training. After taking about a week off, she got back into running, but for herself this time. In December, she got back into weightlifting, and by January, she was already looking ahead and training for her next competition.

She claims that there were two big moments that inspired her to start training for a triathlon. The seed was first planted over the summer before her final year of soccer. The rigorous summer training caused her to reflect on her experiences with running and realize that she’d never really been that into it. “I wonder what it would be like to do this for myself and not for soccer,” Laney found herself reflecting. A few months later, during the fall season, her plans were solidified when her boyfriend brought up the idea of competing in a triathlon. When they decided to seriously commit to it, they drew up a spreadsheet and started developing a training plan for when the soccer season was over.

With still a couple months to go until the big race day, training is going well for Laney. Through her experiences in soccer, she learned how to push herself with tough workouts and get up and get it done even when she doesn’t want to. These qualities have taken her far in triathlon training and led her to many accomplishments including completing her first half marathon, just over a month ago.

Having actually signed up for races and events keeps Laney motivated in her training. She describes herself as a “subtle competitive person” – while she may not always seek out competitions, when Laney is faced with a challenge, she always rises to it. Looking forward to her triathlon, Laney wants to perform well and hopes to place on the podium.

When asked to give one piece of advice to her freshman self, Laney said “keep your head up, you’re going to be a stronger leader in the next three years.”

And, to those who are still in their competitive sport careers, at any level of competition or experience, take a piece of leadership advice from Laney – learn to lead from any position on a team and take the time to always grow and develop your skills, which will carry you far in life.

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