By Chris Wimmer
In January of 2010 at the NSCAA Coaches Convention in Philadelphia, I attended the “women in soccer breakfast.” I had the chance to hear an important and impressive speech by Yael Averbuch of Women’s Professional Soccer’s Sky Blue FC anda member of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Averbuch spoke about about the importance of focusing on the journey of success rather than the end result.
I was lucky enough to be able to speak with Averbuch and follow up with her about where her journey has taken her since I saw here give her inspiring speech.
Chris Wimmer: Thank you for taking the time to respond to our interview since I am sure you must be extremely busy in the middle of the WPS 2010 season with Sky Blue FC.
Averbuch: Yes, the season is busy, but I always love talking about soccer and WPS. So, I’m excited to be able to answer some questions.
Wimmer: Speaking of the WPS season how is your second season with Sky Blue FC going personally and as a team?
Averbuch: This season is very different from last season so far. Everything with Sky Blue FC was new last year. No one, including myself, knew what to expect in terms of facilities, level of play, training, and how it would all turn out.
Personally, I am a lot more confident on the field this year. I know what to expect and have had a lot of game experience now, which has helped me to make more of an impact for Sky Blue FC. Every season has its ups and downs, but as a team Sky Blue FC has a much better perspective this year. Having been in last place for a while last season and coming back to win the Championship, we are much more able to keep things in perspective this year and learn from each win or loss along the way.
Wimmer: When you began playing soccer at age 7 did you ever imagine having the opportunity to play professional soccer in the United States and better yet for your home team?
Averbuch: I could not have dreamed of a more perfect situation than I have right now. When I started playing soccer there was no professional league. It was perfect timing when WPS started up right after my college eligibility was finished, and to be drafted to New Jersey — my home state– made me incredibly happy.
Wimmer: Recently my daughter and I attended a local WPS Washington Freedom game where she was able to meet players and get there autographs, do you enjoy the fact that the WPS is so good at promoting fan interaction?
Averbuch: I think fan interaction is essential to WPS. Our goal as players is not only to provide entertainment to our fan base and to build that base, but to ensure that those young girls in the stands will have a place to play if that’s what they dream of. Without our fans the league could not exist. We want to be as available as possible to our fans and I always enjoy meeting fans, taking photos, and signing autographs.
Wimmer: Many athletes in the past have said they should not be seen as role models, how do you feel about having young girls look up to you as a role model, especially those young girls who play soccer and would like to play in the WPS someday?
Averbuch: I believe that all the women in WPS are great role models and SHOULD be seen as that. I can remember watching the Women’s National Team and WUSA games as a young girl, and wanting to be just like those women. For a young girl to dream of playing soccer professionally, they must see us, see our effort on the field, see our skill, and see the way in which we handle ourselves off the field. It is so important that they realize that we are all smart, talented, driven women, and that they are capable of being the same.
Wimmer: Recently the St. Louis Atletica WPS team stopped operations, what impact has this had so far on the WPS season?
Averbuch: Thankfully, WPS franchises are owned independently, so the biggest impact has been merely scheduling changes. The league has done a very good job of making minimal changes to the schedule, and many of the players from St. Louis have been picked up by other teams. Sky Blue FC was lucky enough to add Kendall Fletcher– a teammate of mine from UNC– to our roster.
Wimmer: The U.S. Woman’s National team has always been known to be at the top of the list in woman’s national soccer. How much of an asset is having the ability to play in competitive leagues (WPS) against other top international players to prepare for the U.S. Women’s National team for tournaments and more importantly the upcoming 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany?
Averbuch: I think that the experience many American women have gained playing WPS has been very beneficial. Not only does the league provide an environment for weekly high level competition, but it has allowed us to learn from the international players. Each team is allowed five international players, and I’ve noticed that each country represented brings a slightly different style and sophistication about the game. It is great to be able to play with and against these players, and it is great preparation for the U.S. team.
Wimmer: What are your short term professional goals as a player?
Averbuch: I want to score my first WPS goal.
Wimmer: Where do you see yourself five years after you have finished your playing career? Do you imagine you may get into coaching and if so at which level (i.e. youth, High School, College, or Professional)?
Averbuch: I want to start a development academy. My vision is to train individuals and small groups, focusing more on the technical aspects of the game.
Wimmer: Finally, with regards to the “Journey” soccer has brought you over your lifetime and career, what new obstacles have you faced since delivering your speech at the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia? What opportunities have come your way since then? Will there ever be a pinnacle in your soccer Journey where you will finally say “I made it”?
Averbuch: Wow, I could write a whole essay answering this question, but I’ll start by saying that I’m fairly certain I will never say, “I made it.” I truly believe that this journey has no destination, but instead is a continual learning process, which provides me with incredible joy and passion. The more I play, the more I see that every player—no matter how much they have achieved—goes through the same ups and downs. Since my speech, I have gone through periods of low confidence, been sick and had to miss a game, struggled with being subbed out when I didn’t feel I should have…I am thankful to say that none of these obstacles have been gigantic, but they are unavoidable within the process. And the positive opportunities that have come my way have far outweighed any hard times. I have gotten five more caps with the National Team, traveled to Portugal to play, earned a starting spot for Sky Blue FC, and had the chance to play and train with a wonderful collection of people who I learn from every day. Some times it is hard and I get frustrated, disappointed, cry, scream. But this process allows me to wake up every day excited and it inspires me to be the best person I can be. So maybe, in truth, I can already say “I made it.”
Wimmer: Thanks to Yael Averbuch for and taking time in her extremely busy schedule to answer our questions. Best of luck on your continued success.
Averbuch: Thank you.
Chris Wimmer is a high school girls soccer coach and the creator of Virginia Online Soccer News. His interview is published with written consent.