Life of an Athlete: My Story as a Student Athlete and Soccer Player

Fused Reporter, Ellie Lloyd tells her story of playing soccer throughout childhood and high school.

For almost as long as I can remember “soccer player” has been a central part of my identity. Beginning at the age of four, I was attending summer soccer camps for preschool age kids, where the goal was just to kick the ball. Even though I was barely out of my toddler years, I knew I loved soccer as soon as I got the chance to play. However, my parents and I had no idea that I would actually be playing this sport for the next 13 years of my life.

Ellie Lloyd in a huddle with her fellow lady cougars during a game her junior season. Sports Photos by Michael

Upon entering elementary school, soccer became a daily practice, not just a summer activity. Everyday after lunch, I remember sprinting to the soccer fields with my friends from class, eager to continue playing our game from the day before. It was at my two elementary schools, Childs and University, where I realized that I not only loved soccer, but wanted to play more than the 45 minutes of recess that I got five days a week. A few of my friends from school played competitively for Cutter’s soccer club, and encouraged me to join their team. I brought it up to my parents who were more than happy to see me pursue my love for the game, and at the age of nine I joined my very first travel soccer team.

From fourth grade up until I began high school, I played on a Cutter’s travel team in both the fall and the spring every year, as well as indoor leagues in the winter. These five years not only taught me everything I needed to know about soccer, but also provided me with leadership skills that would carry over into my high school athletic career. Each season proved to be completely different from the last, and forced me to adapt to new challenges. When I started travel soccer, I was arguably the worst player on my team and hardly saw any minutes of playing time. As a nine-year-old with no competitive soccer experience, I had to learn how to push myself as an athlete in order to earn my playing time. By the time I completed my last fall season with Cutters in eighth grade, I was not only team captain, but played every minute of every game.

Ellie Lloyd with teammate Ella Kidwell warming up before a game this past season. Sports Photos by Michael

As I began my freshman year, I was also starting my very first high school soccer season in the fall. High school soccer proved to be completely different from what I’d become accustomed to on my club travel team. Suddenly, I was playing against girls who were four years older than me and much more skilled. I had to learn how to change my game in order to play more physically, while also understanding how to incorporate detailed strategies into my game. Although soccer at a high school level was much more difficult in comparison to club soccer, I found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire high school career. Through my four years on the team, I grew as both a person and an athlete in ways that I never thought possible for myself. My class especially faced a great deal of adversity, as we went through three different coaches, seemingly endless injuries, and heartbreaking losses. However, these challenges allowed me to develop resilience which served me beyond soccer and into my personal and academic life. Aside from personal growth, the variety of difficulties that we faced caused our team to grow extremely close and allowed me to make some of my best friends over the course of my four high school seasons.

The BHSN girl’s soccer seniors this past 2018-2019 season. Kirkwood Photos

In the first week of this October, my soccer career ended in a devastating 1-0 loss to Bloomington High School South in sectionals. My hope had always been to make it to regionals as a senior, just as we had my freshman year. Although this result broke my heart, it had no impact on my appreciation and love towards high school soccer at North. From the life lessons to the athletic skills I developed to the lifelong friendships I made, I am endlessly grateful to both North and the sport of soccer for providing me with 13 years of happiness.