Q&A With Rachel Mina
Rachel Mina (top row, center) is a 2014 CAC graduate and forensic science major at Grand Canyon University. Along with finishing her first season of soccer at a Division I school this year, Mina is currently playing with the Colombia women’s national under-20 team. For the past two weeks, Mina has been in Bogotá, Colombia training with the Colombian national team.
We heard you’re on a two-week stay in Bogotá. Tell us about what you’ve been doing there.
I’m here at a training camp because the Colombian women’s soccer team is getting ready to head to the World Cup in Canada this summer. This is my first time with the national team, and I’m getting the experience of playing and practicing with some of the best girls in the world. The practices here are difficult and test my skills daily, but it’s an honor to be able to train with such amazing players and coaches.
Tell us a little bit about your experience playing for Colombia’s U-20 team.
One of the biggest difficulties is the language. I understand Spanish, but the speed the girls and coaches talk is a little much for me. Another difficulty for me is the speed at which they play soccer. There are many different styles and ways to play soccer. Getting used to something new is always hard, but it becomes easier with more experience and time.
How have you balanced playing with the Colombian team and being a full-time student?
This is probably the hardest thing for me. Most of my assignments are online. It’s hard when I’m dead tired from practice and I still have a calculus quiz, a chemistry lab and a psychology paper – all due by the end of the week.
Later this year you’ll play in your first official tournament with the Colombian national U-20 team. How have you been preparing for that?
The only way I can prepare myself for something like this is through practice, practice, practice. I’m also working on my confidence and mental game because in most situations on the field, it’s all about how mentally strong you can be. I’m planning to return to Colombia soon for more camps so I can prove that I’m ready to take the next step and play in some of the largest tournaments in the world.
Tell us about one of your favorite memories from playing soccer at CAC.
One of my favorite memories would have to be the two state final games I got to be a part of, and the two state championships we won. In 2012, we were not supposed to win that game. We were playing against a team that had already beat us twice. We came away from the game 1-0 and it was an amazing feeling. Winning games like that one is what soccer is all about. It’s what everyone trains so hard for. I had an amazing team at CAC, and I will cherish those memories forever.
Who would you say has influenced your soccer career the most?
There was a point in my soccer career when my dad told me I couldn’t play for anyone else anymore. He told me I had to play for myself, and that was the only way I could keep myself motivated to go all the way. He asked me “Who do you play for?” And it changed the way I play. My dad was right. There would come a day when I would be far away from him and my mom and I would have to push myself to give 100 percent. I remember countless times when my dad would take me out to practice one on one with him. He has always been my coach and will always be my coach, and my mom will always be there lifting my spirits.
Through this experience, I got an answer to my dad’s question. Whether I continue to play soccer is not up to my parents, family or friends. This is a personal goal and a dream I want to pursue and achieve. If I don’t want this dream deep in my heart, then there’s no point in playing.
Lionel Messi said, “I have fun like a child in the street. When the day comes when I’m not enjoying it, I will leave football.” This is one of my favorite quotes, and a statement I take to heart. I’m in love with this game right now. I try to improve so I can show myself that I am good enough. But if motivating myself becomes a hassle, and I stop having fun – that’s the day I will be done playing. Every day I try to prove to myself that I have the skill. Every day, I try to make my parents proud of everything I can accomplish with the talents God has given me. It is such an honor to be where I am, to do the things I’m doing, and to see the things I’m seeing. I am blessed beyond belief and thankful to everyone who has helped me get where I am today.