As we continue our celebration of Women in Sports, we take you to the college sports scene. Rutgers senior soccer player and team captain Tricia DiPaolo talked to us a little bit about her career and managing school with athletics. Unfortunatley, Tricia missed her senior season due to injury, but that never kept her down. She was always there to help and support the team. It was an honor to talk with a local college athlete.
After a successful junior season, you were unable to see the field as a senior this past season. How difficult was that for you?
It is always really difficult to be sidelined due to an injury and watch your teammates play, but it is also motivational because it makes you want to work harder to get back on the field and play with them. Obviously sitting out is a tough thing to do, but if you are able to turn it into a positive learning experience, it becomes a valuable lesson. For one of my classes I had to write a paper about my “finest hour” as an athlete. I wrote about tearing my ACL because even though it kept me out of competition for a bit, it taught me a lot about myself and I was able to learn more about the game.
Once your college career is over, are you done playing competitively or do you have plans to continue?
I’d like to play overseas for a little bit.
Would you like to begin a career as a soccer coach some day?
Absolutely. I can’t see my life without the game so if I’m not playing, I want to be coaching.
Growing up with interest in playing soccer, who were some of your inspirations and role models?
Scottie Pippen was definitely my role model when I was little. I loved how selfless he played, and he was very team oriented. I also really looking up to the members of the ’99 World Cup team. I remember watching the opening rounds at Giants Stadium. A couple weeks prior to that the team was practicing at the Pingry School in NJ and my dad had taken my best friend and I to watch them practice. After practicing everyone was waiting around to get their autographs and the line was really long. My dad found out what hotel they were staying at and we waited in the hotel lobby and got to meet every member of the team and take pictures and get autographs. I was 10 years old at the time, so it was a pretty awesome experience.
What are some of the challenges facing specifically female athletes in college?
I think the biggest struggle student athletes face relates to time management, especially in season and especially as freshman. Luckily for us we have a lot of resources such as tutors, study hall, weekly updates, and academic advisors to help, but it’s a difficult adjustment at first.
Looking back on your time as a collegiate soccer player, playing in your home state, what was your proudest moment? Any regrets?
It’s been really awesome to see Rutgers pride grow in the state of New Jersey over the past five years. I feel like with each passing year more and more NJ residents start following Rutgers athletics. Any time I’m driving and I see a block ‘R’ magnet on someone’s car I feel a sense of pride. In terms of specifically soccer, my proudest moments came during our 2008 season, which was my freshman year. We had started the season with 11 healthy players. Despite adversity the girls pulled together and we had a great season. We upset Penn State and Oklahoma State in the NCAA tournament before falling to Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen.