by VAUGHAN SHANLEY '15
If you’ve ever attended an SUA soccer game, the chances are that you’ve seen #15, junior Mary Alice Vignola, race across the field to make an assist or score a goal. Ranked twelfth for girls’ soccer in the GGCL, she’s accumulated a total of 10 points this season and 37 points in 2013.
Vignola’s soccer career began when she was only five years old, and she has continued to stay committed to the sport throughout her life. Through the years she has remained dedicated to the sport, playing year round and competing on a variety of teams to improve her abilities. She played for Ohio Elite and then began playing Varsity soccer for SUA in her freshman year. Vignola says that was has inspired her to continue playing is her “love of the game.” She says that after each practice and every game, she “begins to like it more each time and [...] has never wanted to change to another sport.” The time she struggled most with her commitment to the game occurred after an injury she received in seventh grade.
Vignola suffered from a knee injury, and she was afraid she would never recover from the incident. She got scared and wanted to quit because of her fear, but her love of the sport allowed her to stay motivated to keep playing soccer. Vignola said that her parents and her coaches have both been incredibly supportive throughout her journey, and she is “lucky to have them by [her] side.”
Vignola has also experienced playing at the national level. She began playing on the national level when she was called to join the U.S. U-14 National Team. This year, she was named fifteenth out of ESNN’s Girls IMG Academy 150 Player Pool. Vignola practices with this team about once a month, having to go to LA for a week to participate in the training camps. Here, the level of soccer and team is very different from the high school sports.
MA says that the “skill level is much higher” on these teams, which makes “practice go a lot faster” and it is “easier to rely on the people” because they are all playing at a similar level. One of the drawbacks is the adjustment from playing at a national level and transitioning to the high school skill level once again. She misses school during these times, which is also a challenge. Missing about a week of classes causes her to feel like she “gets of track” in school and loses focus because she has devoted her time solely to playing soccer. She has found that it is difficult to re-adjust to academics and her SUA community. Vignola says that in the beginning, the school was not understanding of her absences, but their support of her traveling has grown over time.
Soccer has been a major part of MA’s life from a young age, and her soccer career will continue into her college days. She committed to University of Tennessee this fall.