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Allie Thornton: More than just a sport

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Allie Thornton: More than just a sport

Postby PonyPride » Mon Aug 19, 2019 9:06 pm

By Allie Thornton, on SMUMustangs.com:

More than just a sport

As I begin my final year at SMU, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on my college soccer journey.

No matter if I think about my first goal or scoring the game-winner against Cincinnati in the conference championships my sophomore year, I can definitely say that my time at SMU has been a truly great experience. And hey, I’m not done yet.

But of course, I couldn’t have gotten here by myself. It took some very special people in my life to help me get to this place. Without them, I would have never been able to be a Mustang soccer player. Two people that deserve special recognition are my parents.

Family First
Its cliché, but my parents have always been my role models. They’re both really competitive which was definitely passed onto me.

My mom is very strong and independent, and I really admire that about her. My dad is definitely the strong silent type. He’s very genuine and is so caring and always puts his family before himself. Literally, he would do anything for us. Both of my parents have the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met.

Throughout my life of being an athlete, whether it be in junior high, high school, or college, my parents have remained my biggest fans. From cross country to volleyball, and every crazy sport in-between (juggling club), they’ve continued to support me. They’ve sacrificed so much so that I can play the sports I love.

My dad has driven me across the country for games and tournaments, making so many memories that I’ll cherish forever. The amount of money they’ve spent on club fees, equipment, and travel has to be crazy, but they would do it again in a heartbeat, I’m sure.

They’d do anything to set me up to have the best chance at success. And the best part about it?! They never miss a game. No matter where or when it is, they are always there.

Just to give you an example of my parents’ dedication. My dad even insisted on driving me to practices when I was a senior in high school and perfectly capable of driving myself. He just loved being there. They both do! I’m sure my dad would come to my college practices too if he could! During games, I used to look over to the sidelines at my mom and she’d always smile at me and give me a thumbs up. I loved that! I have the best parents in the world. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them!

Being a Mustang
When it was time to select a college, my parents definitely played a part as well. While this was obviously not the only factor, living only 45 minutes away from campus, making it easy for me to go home, was a very nice bonus to SMU.

But frankly, I simply loved SMU right off the bat. Everyone was so genuine. The coaches, aside from being phenomenal coaches, seemed like really good people. Something that was very important to me.

The girls were all very real and welcoming, as well. I never felt like I was a bother to them, even when I was just a recruit. I couldn’t be happier here and am so grateful for having such a positive experience.

Soccer > Sport
Getting to play at SMU means being part of something bigger than myself. Representing the Mustangs means upholding our six core values of service, passion, integrity, respect, innovation, and teamwork.

It means excelling for the sake of the school and the athletic department.

I think some student-athletes also overlook the fact that being a college athlete helps you build a personal brand. I will be a Mustang for the rest of my life. And I couldn’t be more proud of that!

Leading by Example
Having embraced the Mustang way of life, I am so honored that this year, I get to be a senior captain. Surely, this means having a lot of responsibilities, but I am looking forward to the challenge. At the end of the day, I want to leave the team better than it was before.

One of my biggest goals this year is to promote team unity, with the team fighting for each other, playing for each other, and winning for each other. I want to be supportive of my teammates and constantly remind them to be appreciative of this opportunity here at SMU.

We always have to be aware that there’s a lot of people who want to be in our shoes. It puts things into perspective.

Lessons for Life
Something I love about soccer is the cohesiveness of the sport. I think it’s one of the most team-oriented sports out there. Everyone has to be doing their job and working together in order for things to click. Certainly something that is important in other settings as well.

You see, soccer is not only a sport to me. It actually teaches me a lot of life lessons as well.

For example, when I tore my MCL right before the beginning of my junior year, I was devastated. It was the first serious injury I’ve ever had, and it was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.

I was only out for eight weeks total, but it was the longest eight weeks of my life. I was in the training room doing rehab for 3-4 hours a day.

This process really forced me to focus my energy on all the blessings in my life and doing other things that made me happy. I didn’t want to only focus on the fact that I couldn’t play because I would’ve been severely depressed. It also taught me to never take a moment on the field for granted because you never know when it’ll be taken away from you.

Like it is for many other student-athletes, the sport becomes a part of your identity. And when this part gets taken away, even just for a few weeks, it’s really challenging to cope with it.

As I’m sure there will be plenty of comparable situations in the rest of my life, I’m actually very grateful for soccer allowing me to experience such a hardship.

What’s Next?!
After all the perseverance and hard work, I would love to end my SMU career on a high note. My goal for both myself and the team this year is to win our conference. It’s been my goal since freshman year. Now, being a senior, I get one more shot at getting that ring.

After SMU, I want to try and play professionally. I may try and play in the States, but I’m also open to the idea of playing overseas.

Regardless, I know that I’m not done playing the game I love and my passion for it hasn’t died at all. My body is still in good shape (knock on wood) and I think I’d completely regret it if I didn’t at least try.

If things don’t pan out in this direction, my Plan B is to do soccer-related personal training. I want to try some methods of very intimate personal training, possibly one-on-one or in small groups. I’ve had the privilege of working with and learning from so many amazing coaches.

I feel a bit of an obligation to pass what I’ve learned all these years down to the next generation. But for now, let’s see what this final year has in store for us.
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