When you have been playing a specific sport for many years, the ability to prove yourself can become more difficult as you are competing against other people who also have very high skill levels. This has not been a problem for center back Sophia Stevens. Originally from Langley, British Columbia, Stevens made the move to Regina to play for the Cougars Women’s Soccer team and pursue a degree in international studies along with a certificate in justice studies. Although things have looked very different this year for the team she has taken the challenges in stride and is prepared to do what she needs to do for the sport that she loves.
For Stevens, soccer was the only thing that made sense for her to do. At the prime age of 3 weeks old she went to her first game. As well, she grew up watching her older sister and both of her parents take part in their respected leagues and travelled with them to their tournaments allowing her to fall in love with the sport more and more. At 3 years old, she started participating in a league herself and has not looked back since. She had the ability, from age of 4 to 9, to take part in an all-boys league which she believes allowed her to view the sport from a more competitive viewpoint and also provided her with a supportive environment that she could work on the development of her skills.
But, how are things looking for Stevens currently in the sport? Given the state of the world, she is back in British Columbia and playing in a cohort, which she intends to do until January. In the new year, she will be travelling back to Regina so she can do more work with the Cougars team directly. Once back, she will be spending two days in the gym and three days doing team practices. These will look different than they used to as the gym will have bubbles and the team will be wearing masks during team practices. They have now been cleared for contact so they now have the ability to do more during these. As well, they have been doing tactical planning over Zoom to ensure that everyone can stay on the same page.
During this time, Stevens admits that this break has been extremely draining for her. As she is accustomed to being able to go out and see her team almost every day of the week and being able to take part in the activity she loves, isolation has taken a toll on her mental health. She describes this time as the same feeling you have when you are out of a season with an injury. However, it feels more intense because it is as though everyone has the same injury. This is something that is extremely difficult to work through as unlike a regular injury, you do not know when you will be able to return.
While the current times may be hard, Stevens can take pride in the accomplishments she has been able to achieve thus far in her athletic career. At the age of 15, she was able to travel to Spain and played in Barcelona for a week. During this time she attended a camp and had the opportunity to be coached by the Barcelona teams coaches. It was this experience that presented her the opportunity to try out the position of center back for the very first time. At the end of this experience she was awarded a certificate, awarding her the title of being the best center back present during the camp. A few years later, Stevens was able to play semi-professional at the age of 18. Not only was she the youngest player on the team but she was also deemed a starter after the first game. These amazing accomplishments are something that she can take comfort in and Stevens can look forward to the potential opportunities that will present themselves in the future.
Stevens has more than just her soccer achievements to look back on fondly, she has also been presented with other many amazing opportunities. Recently she was able to run the social media aspect for the virtual town hall that was held with the intention of getting young people motivated to go out and vote in the elections. She was also able to coach inner city school children after school hours through the Vancouver Police Department in Langley. The goal of the program was to help give these children a safe space to enjoy activities after school hours as well as form a positive relationship with police. This opportunity was near and dear to her heart as not only did she get to share her love of soccer but both of her parents are police officers and being able to participate in a program that strengthens the relationship that individuals have with officers was extremely rewarding for her. She has also been able to attend one UN conference and had the ability to attend a conference held for Young Women and Public Safety personnel. These experiences have all translated into other aspects of Stevens life as she moves forward in her schooling and everyday life.
If she has learned anything from her time as an athlete, it’s that you are not going to get everything that you go after. However, it is important to keep pushing forward. No dream is ever too big and ensure that you have role models that you can look up to in order to keep you motivated to continue forward. Refuse to accept less than what you deserve and ensure that you do not step on others to get to where you are going. None of the things that are worth getting are easy to obtain but you should always keep moving forward towards them no matter how many times you may stumble and fall. You can be satisfied in yourself if you never stop the fight for what you want.