Senior business major and soccer player Rebekah Gonzalez developed an interest in soccer at the age of four and has enjoyed and excelled at it all the way up through her college career. Although playing collegiate soccer has always been a goal for Gonzalez, she recalls the moment that made her choice to play at UD.
“It wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I came to visit UD that I realized I wanted to play here. I enjoyed [the] UD atmosphere, the small UD community and after speaking with Coach Lexi and a few of the players I realized that UD was the perfect fit for me,” she said.
Gonzalez’s first soccer game at UD was a preseason match in California, and although nervous, she set the tone for all of her athletic career during that game.
“I was a nervous wreck, being a freshman on the field surrounded by mostly juniors and seniors, I was afraid of messing up and didn’t want to let my team down.”
As the game went on, the opposing team received a penalty resulting in a free kick on the 18. Gonzalez took the shot, scoring in the upper left hand corner of the net and kicking off her career at UD properly.
“This was really exciting for me because not only was it my first collegiate goal, but my family was also there to see it.”
Scoring an impressive goal in her first game provided the confidence to continue training and practicing.
“After scoring, my nerves declined considerably and the goal reassured me that I am capable of playing with girls who are older and most likely stronger than me; it gave me the confidence I needed for the rest of my collegiate career.”
Alongside daily practices and frequent away games on weekends, there is also UD’s demanding curriculum to grapple with. For Gonzalez, time management was the key to success.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the ways of your sport, the excitement after winning a game or the exhaustion you feel after practice, but it’s important to remember that it’s your education that is going to take you forward in life. Being able to manage your sport with the UD curriculum is a skill that I never mastered but worked on everyday.”
Gonzalez reflected on managing her education alongside her rigorous training regimen, saying “There were a countless number of late nights, time spent in different hotel lobbies trying to submit a test before midnight and going to class operating on two maybe three hours of sleep because the bus got back later than expected, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.”
Gonzalez’s hard work and determination culminated in her winning the USCAA “Player of the Year” award for 2021. The coaches of the conference vote to determine the winner of the award.
“I was really honored to be picked out of multiple people from multiple schools. It was a really big deal, not only to me, but I think also to my team because it just showed how much we were able to accomplish this season, even though we didn’t get the results we wanted.”
Gonzalez’s most cherished memories from her time on the UD soccer team come from bus rides for away games and time spent in hotels with the team.
“Most of my time on the bus was spent napping but once we got to the hotel, the team would all hang out in one room and we would just talk and play games like Mario Kart and mafia.”
From a first goal at a first game, to bus rides and hotel rooms, all the way to a “player of the year” award, Rebekah Gonzalez has had anything but an average career at UD.