“A Look Back: A Photo Journey” series uses memories, reflections, and photographs to explore the journeys of high school girl athletes and the roles sports play in shaping their future lives. This series will feature adult women looking back on their past photographs and reflecting on their experiences. Photographs are taken and donated generously by Don Borin at Stop Action Photography

Lauren Maris graduated from Issaquah High School in Washington State in 2007 and went on to play soccer for the University of San Francisco. From 2007 to 2011, she played outside midfield and forward for USF and was named team captain during her senior year.  Lauren graduated with a B.S. in Exercise and Sports Science and worked as an EMT and in the ER before being accepted into Physician Assistant School at the University of Washington. She is currently finishing her last year of PA school. Read Lauren’s refections on her soccer career:

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Playing soccer gave me an enhanced ability to overcome adversity. Losing games, battling injuries and fighting through fatigue are all skills I formed while playing. I have found many parallels in my life outside of soccer where I used similar skills to work through challenges. For example, my goal to become a Physician Assistant has not been easy. I have had to push past obstacles along the way like being rejected my first time applying and traveling around the country to interview. Being able to put myself in uncomfortable positions in order to succeed is an invaluable skill.

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Learning to live in the moment and block out other distractions is another skill that I developed while playing soccer. Sports have the power to transform someone into the present moment and forget about anything else that may have been a concern. I remember a coach telling me that it was important to have a short-term memory. In sports, it’s imperative to forget the last play and keep your mind in the moment. Although this is a skill I am always working to improve, I believe it can be used in any scenario.

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The friendships that I made with my teammates have been some of the strongest in my life.  This picture was taken my senior year after we had beaten our conference rivals in the championship game. It was a torrential downpour most of the game. The other person in the picture is my best friend, Carly. We met in kindergarten, played on the same soccer team through high school and we are still best friends today. I remember feeling a bit of disbelief after the game ended. Carly was there to celebrate and share in the moment with me. There is no comparison to the connection that is formed from both the struggles and achievements you share with teammates.

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This was on my senior day against Gonzaga. I can’t say for sure if I was attempting a diving header or just falling in this picture. We had dealt with much adversity during the season and we knew we had a good shot of beating the Zags if we stuck to our game plan. I remember feeling extremely focused and determined to leave it all on the field for my last collegiate game. Fortunately, it all seemed to click that day. Me and another senior both scored goals and we ended up beating them 3-1. It was by far the most memorable game I played at USF and one I will cherish forever.

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This was during my senior year as well. I have my arm around one of my close friends and teammates, Molly. She had just scored a goal and we were walking back to midfield celebrating her goal. Moments like this where all of the work you put in at practice, during fitness and in the weight room seem worth it.

Check out other installations of “A Look Back: A Photo Journey