Editor's note: "Leeving" is an opportunity for graduating seniors to write a reflection about their time at Lee and what lies ahead in their futures.
“To have peace does not mean to have no fear, Mia. To have peace is to know that you are perfectly prepared and equipped to step into the fear,” said Professor of Psychology and Human Development Dr. Susan Ashcraft.
In that moment, sitting in the office of a profound counselor and entrusted friend, Dr. Ashcraft, the reality of this opportunity came crashing down with all of its anticipation from the previous twelve months.
It was January 2018 when the seed became planted. I was sitting at the Nashville airport reading Going for the Goal written by Mia Hamm, and between the combination of my sweaty palms, jittery feet and whirlwind of daydreams it became evident that the journey Mia Hamm described of becoming one’s best self was a journey I was destined to endeavor.
Now here I am in the Chicago airport realizing how rapid speed this decision may appear. Within 72 hours of receiving an invitation from the head coach of South Melbourne FC women’s squad in Australia, I said yes.
From the outside, this immense step and life-altering decision to be made in three days could be considered insanity but as I sit here ready for this new journey, I realize it was a platform of yes’ that prepared me for this exact one.
My yes began when I made the decision to attend Lee University, ten hours away from home. As soon as I stepped on campus, I entered a warm environment that fostered individual growth and community support.
For four years, I was given a safe space to explore my identity and purpose through intentional professors and faculty that were willing to go the extra mile in order to benefit my personal development.
My yes began when I laced up my cleats for the first time and stepped onto the Lee soccer field. It was my coaches who introduced the concept of integrating childlike joy into every training session.
It was my teammates who propelled me forward with resilient confidence in my loyalty and ability. The challenges and the losses but most of all the triumphs shaped me into not only a mature soccer player but mature person.
My yes began when my home became Cleveland, TN where I was surrounded by girls that taught me that genuine, authentic friendships are gifts from God.
It was Cleveland where I found my second family, the Potteiger’s, who adorned me with love in every interaction. It was Cleveland where I learned there are mutual contributions that every individual can bring through commitment, honesty and support.
My yes took hold when I realized there was a unifying disposition within every person I spoke to about professional soccer: belief. It is the resounding yes’ around me that are the momentum behind me, encouraging me to push deeper into the unknown potential placed in my identity.
It is not that I am moving forward without any fear, but as Dr. Ashcraft affirmed, I can choose to face my fears with the knowledge that I am supported by heaps of belief from over 10,000 miles away in the sweet town of Cleveland, TN.
There are countless names that come to mind when I think of the grand scheme of my soccer career and personal development but I would like to take a moment for the specifics in this past year.
Chris Hennessey and Luidgi Beauzile. Thank you for being my first yes when I sat in your office a year ago asking the vulnerable questions around my ability and talent as a player.
Erin Ridley and the CFC squad. Thank you for affirming me to trust the process and allowing me to develop a stronger mentality over the summer.
Susan Ashcraft and my Beloved Ministries family. Thank you for being my home every Thursday night and showing me the power in community.
Lee University women’s soccer team. Thank you for teaching me that deep loyalty and trust develops through investing in a greater goal together.
Derek, Jennifer and the four wonderful girls of the Potteiger family. Thank you for welcoming me into your world and loving me so well in the exact ways it was needed.
The Lee University community, professors and faculty. Thank you for being so willing to support your students in making dreams reality.
My sweet friends. Thank you for devoting your full hearts to our friendship and offering authenticity in all of the highs and lows of college.
Most importantly, thank you mom, dad, Marissa, Collier and Marshall. Thank you for nurturing me, challenging me, and inspiring me to be fully Mia – thank you for continually reminding me to be brave, fervent, and tender in all seasons of life.
It was with open arms that Lee University welcomed me four years ago and it is now with open eyes that I leave grateful of what is behind me, eager to unveil what is ahead of me.