As part of our weekly Wednesday Chasing the Dream posts, we’ll be featuring a USWNT athlete up until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Remember when a bright orange flyer landed in your hand for middle school field hockey, acting as an open invitation to sample the sport? When the coach went around and asked who was interested in defending the goal cage, eyes may have sheepishly dodged to the ground. It’s a big role to own with quite a few solo pitch performances. The massive kickers and pads might have even be a little intimidating at that age.
In her adolescent years, a Whitney Point, N.Y. native's hand popped into the air. With that simple gesture, Alesha Widdall began writing a career full of international travel and caps while representing the United States. And she isn’t close to putting down the pen.
“It was voluntarily,” said Widdall, USWNT goalkeeper. “A couple of my good friends were playing or had played the position, and I wanted to do that with them as well. And I didn’t like running when I was younger either and wanted to be in a position where you didn’t have run.”
Before Widdall started hockey, she made a name for herself in the pool. Times are a little different now.
“I have gotten into the pool recently and it is a struggle,” said Widdall. “Now I can run really well, but I still hold records from when I was 11 years old in backstroke. The main reason I didn’t like swimming was because I couldn’t breathe properly. This is why I switched to field hockey.”
Little did Widdall know but she has been preparing for her role on Team USA since she was a child.
“I am the youngest of six and there is a 5 year age gap between me and the next youngest,” said Widdall. “I have always been part of a team and field hockey gave me that feeling of being on a team rather than an individual sport like swimming.”
When she’s not on the pitch, she’s taking classes to fulfill prerequisites for physical therapy school. She enjoys helping people and feels the physical therapy route would be one of the best ways to give back.
“I have a special place in my heart for the elderly and very young, especially toddlers with special needs,” said Widdall. “I can see myself working with infants and toddlers like that. When I was younger my mom worked in a nursing home so I volunteered a lot of time there helping the elderly. Growing up my best friend was my grandmother.”
To relax, Widdall keeps it simple. Reading and playing videos games provide an unique outlet and escape.
“I am kind of a nerd,” said Widdall. “I like to read a lot of fantasy. I like being transported into other worlds, which goes with the video game thing.”
She’s owns her uniqueness with a cool demeanor, confident in her passions and talents. It falls in line with the mentality of being a goalie, there’s no room to be timid or shy. It’s a piece of pitch property reserved for the bold and fearless. And sometimes that courage is merely just raising your hand and trying something new.