Check out the bios of our incredible #SheBelongs players: their birthplaces, their challenges, and their dreams.
ANU: Sri Lanka
I have struggled to fit in with others and to learn to speak English properly.
My future plans are to go to college and major in sports medicine and to travel the world
STELLA: Salt Lake City, Utah
Tearing my meniscus was one of the hardest things i’ve been through. The surgery and recover was easy and quick but it meant I had to stop doing my daily activities such as running and playing soccer for a couple months. It was really hard because the majority of friends I had at the time I knew through soccer and I rarely saw them because I had to stop playing. The couple months of recovery felt really lonely and I debated quitting soccer but I’m glad I didn’t. It taught me how to handle hard things and then I regained my love for soccer again. When I came back from my injury I worked a lot harder than before and became a much better player, mentally and physically.
I would like to go into the medical field, possibly into orthopedics or into sports medicine. I would like to continue living an athletic lifestyle and also help others. I would love to live out of the country.
ABIGALE: Salt Lake City, Utah
The challenges I faced personally in sports, school, and other aspects of my life have made the successes I’ve had all the sweeter and have shaped me to be who I am. I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn and for the outcome of growth that I’ve had. I choose to view the challenges as a chance to get stronger and wiser.
I plan to play D1 soccer and continue my education at Grand Canyon University where I hope to become a physical therapist. My ultimate dream is to play soccer at the next level after college.
The challenge that I have faced in the last few years is adapting to the culture here in America, especially what I struggled with most was getting used to speaking English.
In the next few years, I hope to graduate from high school and continue my education at a university.
In the next 5 years I want to graduate from high school and go to cosmetology school because other than playing soccer, doing hair and other stuff like that is what I love doing the most. I want to make my mom proud because she’s done a lot for me and has been through a lot raising me and my 6 other siblings alone. I’m just really grateful for her. She’s a really strong woman and I really look up to her.
OLIVIA: Salt Lake City, Utah
There’s a lot of ups and downs that built me into who I am today. I think just rejection in sport and life in general is a really hard thing to deal with but very necessary and it keeps you working hard and staying humble.
I plan to attend Grand Canyon University next year in the fall where I have committed to play D1 soccer. I would love to explore physical therapy or chiropractic in college.
Some of the greatest challenges I have faced is moving to a whole new continent which was hard to learn the language and fit in with everyone else. It was also really hard to hear about the war in Ukraine and not know what to do. It was terrible sitting at home hoping nobody would be hurt and that it would all end without being able to help.
I really want to be a real estate agent when I’m older. I also would love to travel the world and explore more of the ocean. And it would be amazing if I could be a marine biologist.
I have faced several challenges in my life such as moving to the United States at the age of eight from a whole different country, learning new things, including English, and trying to adapt to a new lifestyle that I never grew up with. Also, adapting and getting used to my new surroundings and people.
My future plans are graduating high school and going to my dream college UVU to study criminal justice.
BRYNLEIGH: Logan, Utah
In 5th grade I decided to travel 45 minutes from my house to join a club that I knew would be a good fit for me and help me to improve. By the time I was in 7th grade I was completely burnt out and hated going to any practice or game. I talked to my coach who advised me to take a break and to find myself outside of soccer. After taking a long break I was so ready to come back to soccer. Losing it for that time just made me realize how much I needed it. This experience taught me to always trust myself first and surround myself with people who support my improvement on and off the field. I learned that soccer was my safe haven from everything that was happening in my small world. There are no words that explain the influence soccer has had on me and I want to share that with as many people as possible. ❤️
I just graduated from a Mountain Crest High School and i’m continuing my athletic and academic career at Western Wyoming University. I want to go into the sports medicine field. I’m thinking of going on a mission for my church as well.
SOPHIA: Saratoga Springs, Utah
My biggest challenge in life is probably my anxiety, but luckily programs like #shebelongs are helping me to break out of my comfort zone and create amazing experiences and lifelong friendships.
I want to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and then go to college to study Physics.
Challenges I’ve faced that have helped me become who I am are seeing my family struggle for so long and realizing I had to become the change and change our paths. Being the first in my family to take the step into nurturing my education and expanding my horizon and taking every single opportunity that is given to me. My siblings never got that and to be able to have that and making sure I’m not taking it for advantage is what has shaped me to be who I am today! I continue to take a leap of faith because of my family and showing my mom that her plan to come here and give us a better life was the best thing she could have ever done.
I want to become a pediatric nurse in the next five years and I hope to have graduated college and started my career.
ELIZA: Maple Valley, Washington
When I was a child I use to have really bad anxiety. It was so bad my parents usually couldn’t leave me places without me freaking out. But now I have overcome my anxiety and have become a much happier person.
My goal in the next 5 years is to get a full ride scholarship to play soccer somewhere.
SALEM: Park City, Utah
I have struggled with social anxiety, and have slowly been taking steps to get over my fears. This has helped me become who I am today. Presenting in front of a class, holding a conversation with someone I don’t know well, or asking for help at a grocery store all make me nervous. It is a challenge I continue to face, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown and learned that with time and work, I can progress and overcome it.
In the next 5 years, I want to go to the University of Utah and study in the field of neuroscience. I want to stay close to home and my family, at least for a little longer. I also want to get a minor in French and Spanish and hopefully do a semester abroad. And, I would love to continue to play soccer by playing club in college.
IVA: Ogden, Utah
One challenge that I have faced is when I injured my back during the high school soccer season of my sophomore year. This helped me to learn to never take anything for granted, and to be grateful for any chance I get to do the things I love. You never know when it’ll be your last time stepping on the soccer field, or last time you will get the opportunity to do something you love.
In the next five years, I want to graduate high school and receive my diploma, and then start a career in either Education or Law. I also want to play college soccer and continue traveling the world with my friends and family!
LEXI: Salt Lake City, Utah
Something I have faced in my life is having bad coaches that tore me down to the point when I didn’t want to play anymore and because of them I pushed even harder to be the player and person I am now!
I have played soccer since I was 4 years old. I am a 4.0 student with plans to graduate High School and then go to college and continue playing Soccer and maybe go on an LDS mission. In the next 5 years I want to finish college and start working as a physical therapist.
From the beginning, I faced challenges of feeling included in the people around me and getting used to the new community that I moved to. Since then, I’ve learned to build confidence and follow my dreams that I hope to reach one day, no matter the situations that might follow.
In my future, I’d like to graduate high school and major in business at a university.
The biggest challenge I have faced was the language and the reading and writing. Something that helped me become who I am today is to never give up and try ask for help. My mom is my biggest support in my life and she helps me by trying to understand my situation and support me.
My future plan is to go college and be done with my midwife degree in the next 5 years. I want to become a nurse.
SUTTON: Park City, Utah
I have struggled with having confidence in myself, especially in sports. I have had to overcome the fear of making mistakes or not being good enough, and am still working on it today. But, I have learned to trust and believe in myself and my capabilities more, which has helped me feel more comfortable sharing my personality and has allowed me to become more successful.
In the next 5 years of my life, I want to graduate high school and go to college. Throughout the rest of high school, I will continue to play soccer and basketball, and also focus on my schoolwork. After high school, I want to attend a good university and further my education there, maybe in the medical field.
GIOVANNA: Cleveland, Ohio
In 2018, my older sister was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. After a tough battle, she passed away in the fall of 2022. It was difficult to watch her get progressively worse. Through this experience, I care for others more and try to be my kindest self to everyone. I also try to live my life to the fullest, because you never know what could happen.
In the next five years I will have graduated from high school and started college. I’m very open to what that might look like and where that might be. I’ll have my Italian citizenship by then which could also bring new possibilities.
I’ve faced a lot of challenges in my life but the biggest one would be growing up in a poor place and doing a lot of things at a young age just to survive.
In the next five years, I hope to graduate from university and become a dental hygienist.
COACH MARLI: Salt Lake City, Utah
I think we’ve all faced our fair share of challenges in life to help us grow and be the best versions of ourselves. I certainly haven’t been gifted an easy road but I think everything that’s been thrown my way is an opportunity to learn, feel and adapt to constant change of growth.
The biggest challenge, currently, I would like to see our generation crush – is providing opportunity for more women coaches. We know there’s a lack of them, yet we are still struggling to build paths and roadways on how to make more opportunities available for female coaches. There’s a lot of females breaking barriers, it needs to continue and become the norm, not the exception.
In the next 5 years I hope to continue to grow my game and education in soccer to continue to be able to give back to this sport that has given so much to me. It’s built me a wonderful life and I will always do my best for these kids. To instill the work ethic, love, and passion it takes to be great in whatever they want to do in this life.
COACH NIKKI: Utah
I’ve had many different challenges in my life that have made me who I am. Challenges from moving around a lot when I was younger to challenges with faith and finding who I really am.
The biggest challenge that I have had was 7 years ago when we lost our youngest son to SIDS. He was our 6th pregnancy, 7th child, & we had reached our “MAX” at 7 kids. After having 5 healthy babies, I think I had just let my guard down. Maximus was a healthy baby, as well. However, when he was 5 months old I had put him down for a nap, and life changed after that. When I went to check on him I found him struggling to breathe. Although, he was still breathing and for that I am very grateful. We rushed him to the hospital. Then he was life-flighted to Primary Children’s Medical Center. After 2 days, we discovered he was brain dead and we had to make the very difficult decision to let him rest in peace. That decision rocked my world and it has taken a long time to recover. I don’t know that after losing a child, a mother and father ever truly recover. But we’ve learned to find beauty in our new normal.
It has been 7 years since our Makki returned to heaven and through the pain I have found an avenue that helps me do something good in this world… Coaching! It has become my passion, MY drive! I put my heart and soul into the athletes I’m privileged to work with. I’ve been able to coach my own children and have felt that through my son’s sacrifice, we have been able to become closer to each other as a family then we would have ever been able to do so previously.
There is no question that having an Angel Baby is difficult but I’ve learned to use the pain that comes from it to brighten someone else’s day when they are struggling or to instill in a young athlete’s mind that they are more than the opinion of others that negatively effect our youth. I have found grace in the sight of my trial and because of this trial, I have become a better women, a better mother, and a better wife.
I plan to finish my Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education/Teacher Education in the Spring of 2025. This will allow me the opportunity to pursue a career teaching PE in the secondary education system. My hope is that I will find a place at Timpanogos High School, where I currently coach Girls Soccer as the JV Head Coach. I also plan to continue coaching my youngest daughter’s soccer team at Celtic FC in Orem, Utah.