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Part of a team

First slide

Natalia Colon-Gonzalez nearly missed her soccer team’s third game of the season after her flight back from Puerto Rico, where she was visiting family, was canceled. She made it back one day before her team at John Paul beat a rival school 2-0, just a few days after they lost to that team in a 1-0 defeat. 

Colon-Gonzalez, a senior, is the captain of the girls varsity soccer team, a sport she’s been playing since she was around 7 years old. 

“I definitely think I love just being part of a team,” said the defensive center midfielder, who’s played on several traveling club teams and at John Paul for four years. 

But she had to go without that team environment after the pandemic ended her junior season in March 2020. It would be almost a full year before she would train with the full team again. While she waited for her senior season to begin, she conditioned and trained on her own over the summer and fall. 

“What I missed the most I think about it is the aspect of always being with your friends,” she said. With the school’s hybrid schedule, students were split into two groups that alternated coming in person. 

“I hadn’t seen half my teammates until four weeks ago,” when the season started up again, she said. “It was honestly such a great feeling to have everyone back on the field.”

The team had one week of preseason conditioning before tryouts, a preparation period normally spread out over three months. Now the team practices daily, and 

has played three of its nine-game season that ends mid-May. 

Colon-Gonzalez also will get to participate in senior night, something she has looked forward to since she was a freshman, when the underclassmen plan an evening to celebrate the graduating teammates and give them baskets with hand-picked gifts. Unlike the seniors last year who missed out on the tradition, she’s grateful she gets to have the special night and her final season at the school.

“I think I’m taking away from this past year that you can’t really take anything for granted,” she said.

After graduation, she plans to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and pursue a nursing degree. She hasn’t decided yet if she will continue to play soccer, knowing the nursing program will be rigorous. But it will be the camaraderie of the team environment she will miss. 

“It’s just being part of a team that I’m going to miss the most.” 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021