Life After Being A Division One Athlete

My whole life I have seen myself as an athlete. From the days that I can remember to the days that I live today, it has always been as an athlete. Playing it for so long is something that has defined the person that I am today.

In this blog post, I will talk about the life after Division 1 athletics and things that hinder the growth of many college soccer players around the nation that lead to giving up on the sport.

Being an athlete particularly a soccer player was easy because not only did I love playing but I always was pretty good at it. What I didn’t plan for was what would happen to my identify if I didn’t play soccer anymore.

In high school, soccer became more important to my identity than ever. Being a freshman, I played soccer and ran track as well.

Corinth Holders Soccer 2015
Corinth Holders Soccer 2015

All the way to my senior year, I was recruited to play Division 1 soccer. All the hard work I had put had finally been paid off. The whole time I would play, the thought of being able to play Division 1 soccer was the whole goal.

Everyone on my club team strived for the same goal…..to play at the next level. Sports had mattered to me for so long that whenever getting that opportunity to play in college meant that is was well worth it.

My schoolwork was important as well but I never really pushed myself to do better than the requirements. I personally felt that I couldn’t find an identity in the classroom. I never really like going the extra mile, studying, and sometimes even doing homework due to soccer being a priority over school. Don’t get me wrong, I was a good student that received good grades, but yet, my mind most of the time would be filled with thoughts elsewhere.

After having different considerations, I chose Appalachian State would be the best fit for me in athletics and academics. I liked the scene in Boone and the mountains are what made it for me.

What Doing College at Appalachian State Is About – Boone, NC

The Start of College Athletics

Appalachian State Men's Soccer Fall 2016
Appalachian State Men’s Soccer Fall 2016

When I started this whole “college athlete” back in August 2016, I had many competitive factors involved, but in my mind, I was determined to work hard. I would push myself but found myself finishing near to last in many of our training.

The thought of doubt once again worked its way into my head. I began to think “why can’t I see success in something that was important to me?”

With having struggles finding success on the field, the coaching staff was everything but helpful in my situation. Instead of going for a sense of motivation and feedback, I was given very negative and pessimistic views.

It seems as, in collegiate soccer, the level of coaching goes down and coaches only focus on the factors that DON’T make a good soccer player. Training would focus on fitness levels rather than technical drills. In my honest opinion, yes you do need to have a strong fitness level but it is a waste if you have good fitness but can’t even complete a pass.

I was some of the few players that had a strong technical ability but as fitness was emphasized the most than any factor, I began to face struggles in the long run.

There was not one moment on the field that I did something good or was making strides to our ultimate goal. It was always negative and as a player, you get discouraged.

I face this struggle amongst other players that have been in my shoes. The misfortune of not finding joy in the game that you have always loved and played was beginning to fade for me.

I no longer saw joy in playing and every morning the thought of training was seen as a daunting task then an event I would look forward to in pre-college years.

Although I was faced with loads of adversity, I knew that I could not give up that easily on my goals.

Throughout the season, I had been making strides on my fitness, technical ability and my overall winning mindset that was engraved every minute of the day.

I noticed huge changes in my fitness and style of play after a working season at Appalachian. The time came for the 1-month off-season of winter break and I knew this was a huge opportunity for me. There was only one goal the whole break and that was to achieve the holy grail of our fitness test, the 2-mile, 1-mile, 1-mile. 

Fitness Test of Utter Death

Life of Pedro Segundo
Fitness Test for Appalachian State Men’s Soccer

Our fitness test consisted of

  • 2 miles under 12 minutes
  • 6-minute break
  • Another 1 mile under 6 minutes 
  • 6-minute break
  • And Another 1 more mile under 6 minutes 

Boy, was this a nightmare!

Now think about the physical and mental capacity you need to have to accomplish this. It’s nuts! Comment down below if you are able to run this today. I’m curious to see who is able to do this if there is any Jake Chasteen’s reading this right now.

During the pre-season, I finished with a 12:52 two-mile, 6:45 mile, 6:39 mile. These were pretty good results but they weren’t enough to compete at the Division 1 level. During our winter break, I knew this was the chance for me to come back stronger.

Working on fitness every day and making huge improvements on this test, I knew coming back on the first day of the off-season was up for grabs.

First day back, I was so determined and ready to push myself to reach the holy grail of making the desired times for the test.

Unfortunately, the day leading up to the test, I had torn my hamstring and was unable to participate. The nerve-wreck of emotions that followed was awful. I felt very disappointed in myself because of all the work I had put in was ultimately put to waste with solely an injury.  Constant thoughts of failure were rotating in my mind and I just did not feel the same as a player after this.

Struggling to reach peak form after the injury was extremely hard for me. As small re-injuries occurred and fear of tearing my hamstring again prevented my growth to reach my previous form. With the help of such amazing athletic trainers such as Ben Shabb, I had gotten back to form but with little over a month left of the off-season, it had been too late.

Soccer, which once felt so important to me, started to feel like it was holding me back.

Although still on the roster, I no longer felt like I was of the Appalachian State Soccer Team. As the spring term came to an end, I made the decision to not be an athlete anymore. I was extremely afraid to quit, as I had never quit much anything before especially soccer, but I knew that it was the right decision for me at the time.

Life After College Athletics

The summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year of college was extremely reflective for me. With my parents, reminding me constantly that if the decision I made would to be the right one. Friends always asking me if I still play soccer at App State and having to say no was extremely shocking for a lot of people. Due to the reason because everyone knew me because of soccer. It was kind of weird not associating myself as an athlete anymore, to be honest.

For those few months, I didn’t know how to spend my time. There were large parts of my day that I had never had free before. When soccer no longer seemed as important to me, I began to learn that there were many other parts to my identity that I had not yet explored much.

Playing soccer had stripped so much from my social life that the majority of my friends were either soccer players or other athletes. Being tied down to the sport limited me to make other friends.

Many people believe that athletes live a privileged existence, although that may be true to some extent the reason being is that college athletics is more of a job. It’s not this all mighty peak and status quo but it’s literally a job. Logging in more than 40 hours of week is something that I physically/mentally demanding to a young player.

You Are More Than Just an Athlete

It has been over a year since not playing collegiate soccer, and quite frankly I am happier at Appalachian than ever before. I didn’t know if I would like college without having soccer in the equation. It was made clear to me that I am so much more than just an athlete and that Appalachian has way more to offer than just sports for me.

I began to explore the academics side of it. With being an athlete, you don’t have much time to join new clubs, participate in extracurriculars, or even take more courses to get ahead. My whole freshman year was dedicated solely to soccer and taking the minimum amount of coursework. I never went out of my way to join new clubs or to put myself out there as I did in high school where I was a part of 5 clubs in my senior year.

Although in my second year, I was able to join new clubs, meet new friends, and load up my coursework. I started to feel the spark again in nurturing my mind rather than with sports but with school as school can be fun if you know how to balance it.

FINDING JOY AGAIN IN THE SPORT 

I got so caught up in trying to be successful in the sport that I forgot why soccer mattered to me so much in the first place.

The best part about not playing anymore is that I was able to play soccer for fun again. After years of obsessive training and competing, it has been such a relief for me to be able to play for fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I still play soccer but it’s not at a high demand as Division 1 soccer was. I still play intramurals with my ex-teammates (pictured below) and club soccer that has given me the chance to meet cool new people that love the sport like I do.

Appalachian State University Soccer at Alpha Phi Tournament
Using our talents to secure Comeback Shack Gift Cards

Now, I am able to play with my friends and have fun without having the thought of “getting better” each time I played. Instead, I enjoy what is around me and I live in the moment.

Not being able to play has given me time to reflect on what my image and what I will become without soccer. My whole life I pictured of being a professional in the sport but realistic expectations were otherwise.

I now dedicate my time to improving my academics, networking, and finding other ways to achieve the happiness that soccer once brought into my life. One of those examples is the Life of Pedro blog.

Playing it will still brings joy but being on the competing end and working to reach that goal is like no other feeling. You get a much more satisfaction out of it and the great memories you make on your route to that dream is priceless.

Now I want to make a call to action to all college soccer players that have been in my same shoes, that have faced the adversity and that have realized that soccer wasn’t going to provide a living in the future. I want to be able to meet, talk, and find out what your life consists of without college soccer.

I am a huge believer that college soccer needs to be changed as more and more players quit whenever entering college. College soccer has a way of taking the fun out of playing the sport, but just remember this final though

You are MORE than just an athlete!

Your boy,

Pedro Segundo

 

Improving Your Game in Soccer the Quick & Easy Way for 2018

Needing that extra drive and secret sauce to skyrocket your game from riding the bench to being a star player? You come to the right place!

In this blog post, I will talk about a course that helped me improve my game in soccer tremendously. I will also dig a little into my story about how it all came to be. 

FIRST EXPERIENCE IN THIS SOCCER WORLD

Growing up as a kid, I have always loved soccer. It became one of my favorite past times as a child and quickly began growing to be a passion. 

I can still remember this day at my grandma’s house in Mexico where my very first present on my first birthday was a soccer ball. Words cannot express how enthusiastic I was as a child getting this present. It’s funny because I am not telling you from my point of view. I am telling you all this from my mother and grandma’s point of view because they were the only people present during my first actual birthday. My dad at the time was at the States traveling and finding a place to settle down before my mother going to that location. 

Let’s be real here for a minute. Who do you know that remembers their first birthday vividly? I know close to zero people that do unless you have an insane memory. 

But anyway, getting that first ball sparks joy into my eyes and immediately I start to play around with it, kicking it, pushing it around as I crawl, and overall just get curious about it. Honestly, life was amazing at the time because of A. no worries B. I had a soccer ball and C. I was a baby so who cares. 

IT ALL STARTS WITH A DREAM

As I got older and I began to start falling in love with it. Kicking the ball and just being around the sport was my absolute favorite thing and from those moments I knew it was something I wanted to work to get better.

Here are some vintage pics of Young Footballer Pedro. Promise me you won’t laugh.  

At the time soccer jerseys were about the only thing I wore. I kid you not THE ONLY THING I WORE. I’d rock these jerseys to school almost every day.

My attire from Kindergarten up until like 4th grade consisted of shorts, a jersey and tennis shoes. Funny thing is, in 3rd grade I would actually wear my cleats to school. Hearing the “click-clack-click-clack” walking down the hallways was the worst now that I think about it, but hey, you never knew when 5v5 was about to go down in recess. You always had to stay prepared. 

FALL IN LOVE WITH THE PROCESS

In my elementary years, I sucked. Like I really did suck. I remember sitting on the bench for youth soccer back when I was 6-7 years old and barely getting any playing time. This all was so awful because I WANTED to play because I LOVED to play. Sitting on the bench only discouraged me as a kid growing up. 

Going from my elementary team, middle school team, high school, club and all the way up to college my main objective was 

“How can I get better today?”

Getting better was the only way of making me happy and doing what I loved to do, so I did whatever it took to reach that. 

I WAS A NERD FOR THE SPORT

With that mindset and ambition, I would do virtually anything to learn a new trick, learn from the best and literally ANYTHING to get better.

Afterschool for me in my early days was binge-watch Youtube videos, highlights, games, and everything that had to do with soccer footage online. I really want to just digest everything I saw and somehow apply it to make my game better. I would mostly watch freestyle videos because I loved how they looked and they were by far the most fun things to do when playing. 

Every footballer reading this will understand this feeling.

“Bro, how did you do that”

“You have to teach me that”

“That’s really cool”

I fed off this and would just motivate me to learn more tricks/skills to do with the ball.

Image result for epic soccer training

During that time, the internet was vastly growing at an exponential rate. There were loads of videos, trainers, and courses being made available to inspiring footballers. Anything you could watch on Youtube at the time, I watched it at least 1,000 times. 

One of the videos that I kid you not, I watched over a million times was this “Ronaldinho Joga Bonito Video” I watched this so many times trying to emulate every trick, touch, and thing they did in that video. I also tried the bouncing off the walls tricks in my own living room. Jesus, did I break so many things cause of that. 

That weekly conversation of “I broke something again mom” was not pleasant but after happening so many times. They began to kind of shrug it off. I made them a promise that I would get better so I wouldn’t break stuff anymore. 

For those curious, here is a list of videos that I watched over and over again. Hey, maybe we binge-watched the same videos. 

Related image

There is beyond way more videos but these are a few of my favorites. If you haven’t noticed a lot of those are Ronaldinho videos. Ronaldinho growing up was my favorite player and style that I would try to emulate the most. I automatically fell in love with his playing style, flair, and skills. I loved him so much that I would constantly buy his jerseys, his signature cleats, and posters to put in my room. The guy was a pimp on the field. So I tried to be that. 

MAJOR LEARNING CURVE

Learning tricks was the main thing I focused on at the time and still is but that wasn’t getting me to my main goal, of being a better overall player. I knew that I had to change to elevate my game to new levels.

By the age of 12, I saw that change was needed. The change I sought? A course. This was not just an ordinary course, it was a step by step guide in mastering the foundations of soccer and training programs that promoted that. Epic Soccer Training was the solution.

The crazy thing is, I was so stubborn about the fact of reaching out for help because I had the mindset that I was going to learn everything through on my own but that soon came to be inefficient and very frustrating. My parents were firm believers of that but after long talks and conversation after conversation, I convinced them to purchase the course. I promised in return for good grades in school. This was a frequent tactic I used a lot lol. 

The course that I bought was a course that helped me develop a “fail until you succeed mentality” as a kid. Many aspiring footballers get discouraged whenever things don’t go as well and I perfectly understand that because I too was in your same exact shoes. I would rage quit, I would get really mad whenever I would spend hours, days, weeks, and even months on learning a new trick or skill and would make few to none results. I understand, its really frustrating. 

Developing that mindset and having someone there along the way to help me really improved my game to a whole new level. Quickly after obtaining the program, I could see huge strides.

The course helped me to learn the tricks, skills and the most importantly the foundations of the game. If you look at the greatest players in the world, what is the one thing they mastered above all?

THE FOUNDATIONS

It presented these topics under a whole new light that not a lot of coaches and trainers had instructed me at that time.

WITH ACTION CHANGE WILL COME

Matt Smith, creator of the program was just starting out at the moment but with 15 years of experience integrated into this course, it has greatly improved and impacted many other players around the globe. Matt includes a FREE trial period for players to test out the program and really see if it something that they want.

Inside this program are loads of videos, strategies, training outlines, and secrets that every player wishes they had access to. The only thing to keep in mind is if you do not apply yourself and take the time to get better, you will not see results. You get by what you put into it

Anyone can learn this stuff. It takes some commitment, but the most important thing is to use your time wisely by starting my methods right away.

-Matt Smith

Actions over words are key

I will include the link down below for young aspiring footballers to check out what helped me to seek the results they need in the fastest amount of time possible. Click on the link down below to start your free trial. 

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 10.06.17 PM

GET YOUR FREE TRIAL TODAY

Your boy,

Pedro Segundo

Mexico Makes History in World Cup 2018

WOW!!!!!

Boy oh boy! What a game. Actions cannot express how I feel after witnessing excellent soccer played by Mexico. Predictions and game analysists reports all said that Germany would have the lead advantage, and from a soccer standpoint that is true. Germany has all odds on their side when you compare stats and players. Not to forget that Germany is the defending champs after winning it all in Brazil in 2014. Mexico does not have the same caliber of players that Germany has but that did not stop us from catching that swift dub. 

Germany has begun their World Cup run with a loss. THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS, start with a loss against Mexico. Out of all countries, we are the first to give the Germans their first loss of the tournament. Do you know what this means? Mexico has not been able to beat Germany in an official World Cup game until this day. That is huge! Yeah, we didn’t outplay Germany but we had more clear chances and showed more heart in wanting this win. Right off the bat, you could tell we were out to go after it. Showing ambitious chances and targeting the German’s weak spots. 

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD 

Let me set the tone for this one. 

Mexico has been playing exceptionally well, we had optimistic chances.

Germany attack in our attacking third

Germany loses possession

COUNTER ATTACK

The ball gets played to Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez 

Hernandez plays the ball to Chucky Lozano 

Lozano absolutely shats on Ozil with a brilliant first touch that sends him home

Kroos tries to pick up Lozano but the poor defending by Ozil makes it too easy to not finish

Lozano takes another touch into space

Lozano composes himself with cold blood running through his 22-year-old-viens and BOOOOOOMMMMMM! Ozil against Ozil and Kross

GOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!! THE CROWD GOES ABSOLUTELY WILD AF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So wild that it creates an Earthquake in Mexico City. Yes, a freaking earthquake. I was blown whenever I heard about this. Mexico City had a small artificial earthquake due to

Kirk Semple tweet about earthquake
tweet from Kirk Semple on Twitter

 “mass jumping” from the goal. Like how many jumping beans do you need to make an earthquake? My friend, you need a whole lot! The excitement and raveling fans whenever Lozano scores his merely fantastic goal is insane. My family went crazy. Drinks were spilled, body collisions occurred, Max, my dog, was frightened because there was so much movement and emotion happening all at once that he could not handle the hype. Literally, such a great feeling when he netted that key goal. From this moment on, Mexico as a country had high hopes on getting the dub in Russia. As Germany was our number one obstacle in the group stage and things were looking good. 

 

KEEP THE LEAD 

The rest of the game was crucial for Mexico to keep playing smart soccer. Germany at first was calm about the fact they were down. The typical mentality for the Germans. Germany has an intense win mentality that is insane. You cannot let your guard down as they will punish will like my pal O’Keefe likes to say “PUNISH THEM.”

The whole game Germany was pressing and I have to admit, we were parking the bus but you gotta do what you gotta do. German with many clear chances and times that I was jumping out of my seat and screaming “NO NO NO NO PLEASE DO NOT SCORE.” Germany was out possessing us in every aspect but whenever the fact of counter-attack came Germany looked like headless chickens not knowing what to do with my man Vela, Layun and Lozano’s 92 pace. Hummels and Boateng with their 60 pace could not compete and hold off this high pressure of attack from the Mexican side. A comment from my good friend Felix clearly showed that the German side was not playing their best.  

Hummels needs a nap

You have the refs on your side

– Felix Kollmannthaler

There are many excuses you can say but the final minute was slowly arriving. 

Layun had two clear chances in the last quarter of the game and I kid you not I wanted to rip the hairs out of my head because he was not finishing. Frustration and anticipation were building up. Germany was going all out full force to grab the equalizer and not let their supporters down as Mexico was on their way of making global headlines.

MARQUEZ REACHES MILESTONE

Rafa Marquez achieves a huge milestone when he gets subbed on for Andres Guardado in the 74th minute. The moment he stepped on the pitch he becomes only the third player in history to compete in five world cups. Captaining four out of five. My mom LOVES Rafa Marquez. She has been supporting him ever since he first played for the Mexico national team. She likes him for his good looks not so much for how he plays but she slowly began picking up soccer IQ and realized that he is also a really great player for Mexico. Respect goes out to that man. 

THE FINAL WHISTLE 

93rd minute:

The whistle blows and tears of joy are expressed by the players. A nationwide celebration is rapidly occurring in Mexico and my family is jumping up and down screaming Spanish profanity like there is no tomorrow. I indeed was doing the same as I was extremely happy about the result and how we played as a team. 

We did it

Mexico finally broke the curse and we beat the defending world champions. No one in this tournament can take that away from us. 

Mexico wanted to change and change they got. Use Mexico as an example. 

If you want to achieve something that everyone doubts and all adversity is against you

Shrub that off and go do it! 

You can worry about the results later but the most important thing is that you do it and progress from that. It does not matter if you fail but the important thing is that you tried. Mexico failed many times when going against Germany but finally defeated them and boy does it feel good. 

What are you doing today to make yourself better?

Ochoa Mexican National Team after a win
Ochoa after the win

Your boy,

Pedro Segundo