Fitness on the Run (FOR) instructor Erica Morales is an example of what it takes to be a college athlete. She learned many lessons over the years and continues to lead an active and healthy life. Her journey has her looking back with the ultimate: contentedness and satisfaction. We hope her story helps you apply valuable lessons to your child’s physical and emotional development and his/her ability to move safely and effectively well beyond childhood.
Maybe there’s a lesson or two for you! In this three-part series, we explore what parents and coaches need to know to help kids begin or grow their confidence on and off the field and learn how to prevent and rehabilitate through injury.
Erica was introduced to soccer at age 4 and “bitten by the bug” by age 12. It became clear this was “her sport.” Erica’s talent was evident from the start. She devoted hours in their cul de sac juggling, working on headers, passing, and trapping the ball.
Erica traded school dances, vacations, and hanging out with friends for soccer. She felt the sting of sacrifice, but her love of soccer was more intense. She even decided to start taking her food choices seriously in high school to improve her game. It worked. Her performance on fitness tests was unparalleled when she drank lots of water, ate eggs and oatmeal, and timed her meals right.
Erica moved to play Division 1 collegiate soccer at the University of Virginia. She was quickly tested. A tackle from behind left her with a severely sprained ankle. It crushed her. She couldn’t prove herself to teammates and coaches, as she’d imagined.
She fought through the physical and mental hurdles. She even deciphered the small but critical distinction of “pain versus discomfort.” She credits “self-talk” as what helped her get through those times of discomfort. She found that so much of it is mental, and continuing to remind yourself why you’re doing it. Erica says, “You have to experience some level of discomfort in order to grow and get better. Know it and embrace.”
In her first game, Erica scored and UVA went on to win over a very tight and competitive team. This was a confidence boost for Erica in her freshman year.
In 2012, Erica led UVA to victory in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Women’s Soccer Championship and was named to the ACC All-Tournament team.
Erica believes her success hinged on the unwavering support of her parents and her sister, Eva, whom she followed into soccer. They offered love and encouragement regardless of how they played or the score. Their parents put family resources toward soccer – trips, uniforms, etc. Erica and Eva knew their parents had their backs.
Today, Erica works with aspiring athletes and other students to gain confidence in P.E. and recess, as well and on or in the field or pool. Her advice to kids is to “not be so hard” on themselves.
This 26-year-old is in what she says is “the best shape of her life” and has a very healthy relationship with her body, how she fuels it, and how she moves it.
In her words, her workouts for herself are not complicated. She “keeps things simple” and fun. She claims Kettlebells and Mobility are responsible for how fit she has become. She aims to keep improving her mountain biking skills and loves this time with her new husband Ivan.
She hopes more parents and teachers will make an effort to keep sports enjoyable and fun for their kids – especially when things are hard. She also hopes parents of young athletes will take a page out of her parents’ playbook. Her parents treated her no differently whether she won or lost. Her parents’ support and love was the foundation upon which she built her impressive soccer career and her happy, fit life.
Our student athlete program is founded on helping children to develop confidence through proper movement patterns and to prevent injury. Our program is based on the science that proper movements increase brain development and can lead to rewards in the classroom as well.
Imagine your kids as young adults who move properly, eat and sleep well, and love their bodies. It’s achievable, as we learn from Erica.
Share our information with any 3rd grade through 12th grade parent. Stay tuned for several Student Athlete workshops led by our team of college athletes and coaches.