My name is Alyse. The name came a few days after I did.

I was born in a little house on 18th Ave South in Iowa along the Mississippi River.

I had a map of the world on my bedroom wall growing up and always dreamed of travel.

My sports obsession was basketball and what I devoted all my time to.

My classmates said I would be the first female in the NBA (this was pre-WNBA days). That’s what they wrote in my yearbook.

I didn’t even know what Division 1 sports were or that it was the only division that mattered if you wanted to be noticed in sports-life. When you’re a kid from a small town in Iowa at the private high school, where you had one of the larger classes in the history of the school, 23 students, you don’t know everything about the world out there. Least of all the sports world. You have no idea that you’re most likely insignificant.

I played basketball outside in the snow in the winter. All my stretch mittens had holes on the first two fingers of my shooting hand. I knew I was pretty good at basketball, but I didn’t know that it didn’t matter.

I was introduced to soccer as an 8-year-old via the local YMCA co-ed league. The shirts only now fit me as an adult. They must have been down to my knees back then. It wasn’t until 18 that I played soccer with all girls and realized that I actually preferred it. After 10 years of playing with boys, I was meaner than the other girls. I was tougher than most the other NAIA players I came up against. I was used to bigger, stronger, faster,…meaner, players. I collided with an opposing player in my first college game. She broke her leg in two places, and I got a permanent bruise on my shin. I finished the game. She didn’t. I felt bad, sort of. But it wasn’t a foul. Life goes on.

Well, the rest is my history.

The universe, but mostly my persistence, led to working in women’s soccer.

Exhilarating, bumpy, exciting, emotional, unbelievable, but possible. Always possible. So the league comes and goes. So larger than life characters come and go, for better. For worse.

Sleepless, scattered, excited, alarmed, it’s too much, it’s not enough, this won’t be good enough. No…wait. My mom said I could do anything I wanted to do in life. So I did. I do.

Are these my dreams? The weight of how much history do we carry? Do I carry?

What about that 8-year-old girl playing soccer with the boys for the first time?

She can do whatever she wants.

Maybe she’ll grow up and spend time in Ireland, in Ecuador, in Los Angeles, in Chicago, in Seattle.
Maybe she’ll meet her best friend in Berlin and they’ll reminisce 15 years later about those days in Vienna.
Maybe this game in the grass will bring her true love.
Maybe she’ll start her own company.
Maybe she’ll co-found a non-profit academy for young girls whose parents don’t have the means. Or whose society tells them no, always no.
Maybe she’ll run a professional sports team.

Perhaps she’ll keep envisioning, then work to hold them in her hand. Even when it’s hard. Even when she gives up her own plans.

Maybe then she’ll build dreams for other 8-year-olds.