Defiance, OH – In June of 2019, the Defiance College Women's Soccer team took their international trip to France. The NCAA allows an international trip every three years, and this one coincided with the Women's World Cup in France. The six team members that went on the trip were able to visit cultural sites in France, as well as, attend five different games in the World Cup.
The student-athletes have been back in the States for some time now, and they have agreed to share a little bit more in-depth information about the trip, how it affected them, and some personal high lights.
Out of the team members that traveled to France, the last two student-athletes will share their educational experience of traveling abroad.
Sarah Madaras – Senior, Criminal Justice
This summer a few of my teammates and I from Defiance College women' soccer got an amazing opportunity to travel to France! Our group was able to attend five Women's World Cup games along with seeing some of the most famous landmarks in the world. This trip was not only fun but also educational. I am a criminal justice major in hopes of becoming a police officer or a juvenile probation officer. It might not seem like I could learn a lot about criminal justice while in France but I was able to see several differences in their policing, security, and facilities. Not only were the police cars different, but they only had blue lights unlike how ours in the U.S. are blue and red.
Also during games security was everywhere, but much more relaxed compared to how things are in the U.S. Bag checking was very quick and not extensive, and pat downs were also much quicker and less invasive than how they would be here. I was able to observe a few different police stations from the outside, and the structure of the buildings was more pleasing to the eye rather than being intimidating.
While France had its educational aspects, I was able to expand my soccer knowledge as well. Being able to attend five Women's World Cup games was an unexplainable feeling. The atmosphere of the stadiums and the pregame was unlike anything I have ever experienced. If I had to bring one thing back in regards to soccer, I would take the pregame atmosphere. Watching so many games at such a high level was not only fun but also helped me see what great soccer was in person and how the players interact with one another. Overall I am so beyond grateful for this experience, and being able to travel to a place like France is one trip I will never forget!
This is a picture of Katie and I when we got to go down into the Catacombs of Paris. I have always wanted to explore and learn about the Catacombs so being able to go down there was something I never knew was possible.
This was of our whole group in front of the Palace of Versaille. The architecture of this historical building was absolutely beautiful. We were able to walk around certain parts and explore the gardens!
Rachel Lowell – Junior, Physical Therapy
Traveling is something I have always desired to be a part of my life, even more so since my sister has been traveling as a backpacker since I've been at school. Combining this with four years of French in high school, and being an avid U.S. Women's National Team fan (that was looking to attend some World Cup games on her own), going in a group with my DCWS teammates seemed like a perfect fit. The World Cup atmosphere is what drove me to begin to take soccer more seriously, as I can vividly recall watching the heartbreak semifinal game in 2007 as the U.S. lost to Brazil that made me fall in love with the Women's National Team, and the shootout in 2011, where (despite the loss) Hope Solo's performance and penalty kick save lit a fire in me. I wanted to be the best that I could be, and I had the women to look up to in order to drive me towards these goals.
While this trip was mainly for our own enjoyment, there are always those pieces that seem to come full circle. While these were my 9th and 10th U.S. games I have attended, I'm still like a little kid watching in the stands, and it brings me back to my roots, reminding me that while the last year has been difficult recovering from injury, there is always something to remind me how much I love the game. Undergoing knee surgery has put my soccer career on halt for an extended period of time, which has been extremely taxing mentally and physically. However, being able to walk into Le Parc des Princes packed with over 45,000 people, watching players like Megan Rapinoe (who has torn her ACL three separate times) still managing to play arguably at the top of her game, relights that same fire in me that I experienced in 2007 and 2011. It also brings more perspective into my studies and my major, as she undoubtedly did not do it alone, just as I have not in my own recovery process. I want to be a physical therapist that can help athletes return to the sport they love, and in reflection, this trip has solidified this goal even more so as I approach my junior year at DC.
The Netherlands pre-game march. Our guide, Levin, is from the Netherlands, so he took us to their ceremonial march leading up to the first game we would be attending. The streets were flooded with a sea of orange, and it was a really amazing experience to walk and cheer with them.
At the FIFA Women's World Cup Museum in Paris. Had to get a picture in front of my idol's gloves, truly feeling like a little kid as I stared at them through the glass, secretly wishing they would find their way into my backpack before we headed back home. Also had a conversation with Hope at the Brazil vs Italy game we attended.
The Defiance College Women's Soccer team is set to open their season in a few short weeks with the Purple and Gold Classic at Winsper-Knobel Memorial Field. The Yellow Jackets will host Heidelberg on Friday, August 30 at 3:00 pm to kick off the 2019 season.