I love the Midwest. I love everything about it: the open spaces, the friendly strangers, and of course, the cows. When I was beginning my college search, I knew I wanted to stay somewhere in the Midwest—somewhere that felt like home.
My junior year of high school, I came across Kansas State University (K-State). Oddly enough, K-State had never had a women’s soccer team. The program’s inaugural year was set for fall of 2016 and I thought it would be awesome to be apart of the program’s history. Eventually, I made my way down to K-State to meet with the coaches and tour the school. The campus was composed of pearly white limestone, the athletic facilities were top tier, and the nutrition and health programs were well-renowned. I even earned enough academic and athletic scholarship to relieve some financial stress. But the cherry on top was that a church within my synod was just a few minutes down the road. It seemed as though all the pieces were coming together—like I was destined to attend and play at K-State.
During my junior year of high school, I signed my National Letter of Intent. At this time, I was the second-string goal keeper, behind an incredibly talented transfer from the University of Oklahoma and in front of a Kansas City walk on. There were 25 girls on the team, which I thought was small, but not unusual for an inaugural program.
However, to my surprise a lot had changed when I arrived that summer at K-State for classes and training. The team roster jumped from 25 to 37 girls. There were 23 freshmen, a mixture of sophomores and juniors, and one senior. As for the goalkeeping situation, a Switzerland national goalkeeper slid into the second-string spot (rightfully so), the Kansas City walk on was cut, and I was bumped to third-string. While the team wasn’t what I originally envisioned, I was still eager to make K-State my home. It was my destiny after all…right?
After training as a third-string that summer, I met with the coaches. Ultimately, we decided it’d be best if I redshirt my freshman year in order to save a year of eligibility. My pride took a pretty big pounding after that, but I was determined to stick to my plans and someday step on the field for K-State.
That fall, I formed some great relationships and started to grow some really deep roots. School was going well, I trained with and supported my teammates as they played a shortened schedule of exhibition matches, and the “Little Apple” quickly became my little piece of heaven. Even though I wasn’t playing, redshirting at K-State taught me the importance of work ethic, patience, and servant leadership.
What I would eventually learn however, was that redshirting at K-State was God’s way of teaching me that His plans are always greater than mine.
After the season was over, the coaches met with every player to discuss how the season went and our prospects for playing in the future. Several of my teammates and I left our individual meetings with our worlds turned upside down. The coaches, who were gearing up for the team’s introduction into the Big 12, decided not to renew a number of athletic scholarships, including mine. With only one senior graduating and 13 new freshmen coming in, there was simply not enough money—or room—to roster everyone. And so, many of my teammates and I were cut from the team.
I remember coming home after the meeting and locking myself in my room, crying out and demanding answers from God. “Why would you do this?” “How could you ruin MY plans?” “I had everything here—I even had a church!” Fear and anger ruled my life until I settled down enough to have another talk with the Lord. And this time, I just listened—I listened and listened until I heard Him say, “don’t be afraid, go.”
At the end of the semester, I reached out to the coaches at the University of Maryland (UMD) and was enrolled for classes that spring of 2017. While I was a walk on at UMD, the program welcomed me with open arms and has given me everything I’ve ever needed to be successful. I’ve built new relationships, grown new roots, and even declared a new major. I’m now in one of the most distinguished journalism programs in the country, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism—a study K-State didn’t even offer. The campus may not be made of pearly white limestone, but I gained a great group of friends and all the resources necessary for achieving my goals. I like to think that God has a unique sense of humor, and my favorite joke in all of this thus far, is that I once told myself I’d never to go school outside of the Midwest. And yet, here I am on the East Coast, just minutes outside of our nation’s capital. As I spent more time at UMD however, I learned that my experience was missing just one thing: God’s presence.
There was a small, but faithful group on campus called FCA, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. And it was here that I found all the answers I had been asking—or rather demanding from—God the evening I spent crying on the floor after my individual meeting. God ruined my plans and removed me from K-State so that I could be a light on UMD’s campus—so that I could grow his church here. Once again, I heard God say, “don’t be afraid, go.” And so, I grew in my own faith; I became a student-leader at FCA; I started to hold bible studies; and I had the opportunity to help me teammates get closer to God.
While I’m still a “walk on” and have yet to tally a single minute of Division I college soccer playing time, I know my identity is in God and my purpose on the UMD women’s soccer team is for God by serving others. I used to think my redshirt year at K-State was part of my defeat as a student-athlete—but I now know that my time and experiences are what God used to prepare me for something much bigger, much greater, and much more special. I thank the Lord every day for demolishing my plans so that His purpose could prevail.
Hi there FAM, my name is Andi! I’m a student-athlete at the University of Maryland, studying broadcast journalism and playing soccer. Anywhere I go, I bring my camera—I love capturing memorable moments with friends and family. I also grew up in southern Wisconsin and am blessed to be a part of a family of farmers.