Today we celebrate a tremendous local athlete as part of out Women’s History Month project. Carolyn Blank is from Toms River, New Jersey and is a current member of Sky Blue FC of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league. Despite having this years WPS season cancelled, Blank continues to play and stay active in the sport. We would like to thank Carolyn for talking with us about the game of soccer and women’s sports.
How do you feel about Women’s Professional Soccer taking a year off?
I think it is what had to be done in order to get operations rolling again for next year. I think that it is disappointing because so many were looking forward to this year, and it was so close to happening. However, hopefully, this will set us up for years to come.
Is it important for women’s sports to have a top flight women’s soccer league in the United States? If so, why?
Absolutely. First off, for the fans. Fans need a place to see some talented women play soccer! Look at our women’s national team. They are #1 in the world! And those are only about 30 of the United States’ best players. There is SO much talent in the United States when it comes to women’s soccer. I see players every year that get better and better, and I know I am continuously growing as well. It is important for growth of the sport, as well as the players in it.
Is there a benefit to having women coaches for female teams? Why or why not?
I can really go either way with this question. Having a female coach in college, I believe that was easier to build more of a personal relationship with them both on the field and off the field. However, I truly think that it depends on the coach. Male or female, if they want to make themselves available for more personal relationships with their players, that is up to them. In the same light, some players enjoy both options as well. Some players just want their coach strictly as a coach. Others want to be able to talk with coaches about aspects other than soccer that day.
Do you feel women’s sports get the same respect and support as male leagues and teams?
Unfortunately, no. However, I do believe that every league goes through hardships and struggles, and that is where the WPS is right now. It took the MLS a while to get grounded, and I am sure they went through hard times as well. I believe that it will all come with time as long as we get continued support from our fans and US Soccer.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your career as a player?
Many people inspire me and have helped with my growth as a player throughout the years. My family, mother, father and sister have always been my biggest fans, and I enjoy playing for them! Also, my teammates are always inspiring me to bring my best, day in and day out. I have learned so much from different teammates I have been lucky enough to play with, and I take a little bit of all of them with me as I continue to play.
What does it mean to you to be able to play for your hometown team, Sky Blue FC?
It was a dream come true! To be able to do what I love in my home state was awesome. I loved seeing the little girls and boys teams come from clubs that I played for and played against. I felt like I was able to relate with the fans more as well. We are really a great soccer state, and I hope next year the fan base continues to grow!
Looking at the young talent in NJ, how does it compare to the rest of the country?
Like I said earlier, New Jersey has some of the best soccer out there! I hate to brag, but my old club team, PDA, was just ranked the #1 girls club in the United States. Look at the national team…I think it has six players from New Jersey who are called into camp on a constant basis! There is something to say about growth and talent of girl’s soccer in New Jersey!
When you and the team take road trips to away games, are there any traditions that go on?
Not many, but game days are usually very consistent. Breakfast, walk through, nap time/your own time, team meeting and then ride to the game. We always listen to music in the locker room and sometimes some of the “better” dancers on the team perform!
What challenges have you personally faced as a female athlete?
I think just the constant battle of making such an amazing sport more popular! It is hard when there are so many great female athletes out there that play soccer, yet, we can’t manage to stabilize a league.
What are your plans for this year with there not being a WPS season?
Tough question that I am still trying to figure out myself! I know that soccer will be involved somehow. Maybe with a WPSL team and doing some individual coaching and training sessions. I may look to set up some camps in the NJ area! I will be keeping myself busy and in shape preparing for next year!
Previous Women’s History Month Interviews:Tina Cervasio (MSG Reporter) Jennie Finch (Softball) Jen Royle (Reporter)