Paige Nielsen is a professional soccer player, currently a member of the Washington Spirit, who just won the National Women’s Soccer League. In today’s episode, Paige starts at the very beginning and tells us what her journey through soccer has been like and what she has learned along the way.
Paige grew up playing soccer with her older brother who helped foster a love for the sport. Her mom put her into any sport that she could, so Paige grew up playing soccer, softball, basketball & gymnastics. As an 8th grader, she finally decided that she had the most potential in soccer and chose to pursue that over the others.
Paige talks about being offered a spot on the Nebraska Soccer team as an 8th grader. She said it was very tempting, but her mom reminded her about her dream to play at North Carolina. So she went to the North Carolina soccer camp that next summer and got offered a walk on spot, which she accepted.
No process is ever linear. Paige talks about how she had a realization during a workout in high school that she needed to learn to push herself in order to become one of those women who are fierce. Going through that process really made a difference in her ability to go to the next level.
Paige talks about her soccer experience at UNC, including what training was like, the books they read and the leadership opportunities they had. She talks about how the whole experience really promoted her own personal development on and off the soccer field. She highlights the book Confidence Code and how they read that book as a team.
Her junior year, Paige lost her mother to cancer. Throughout the podcast, Paige tells about how her mother really inspired her and championed her soccer journey.
Post college, Paige was planning to go to work for a financial firm, but her college coach let her know that she might have the opportunity to play overseas. She decided to give it a try and talks about her various tryouts in different countries overseas. Meanwhile, she turned on the NWSL draft to hear her friends get drafted and heard her name announced. So she flew home and moved to Seattle to train with the team there. She actually got to live with the family that had hosted her mom when she was undergoing cancer treatments the year before.
For the first 3 months in Seattle, Paige worked out with the team, did extra workouts with the trainer and held down several jobs. Then 3 months into that, she got a call that Seattle wanted to offer her a contract. She played in one game for them before she got waved. But that opened up several other great opportunities.
Paige played in South Korea, Cyprus and Australia after that before returning to the NWSL. She has played for the Washington Spirit for the past 3 seasons and just a few weeks ago, they won the NWSL. She talks about what an emotional moment that was.
Paige talks about the importance of resilience and finding joy. When you know your why, things become a lot less stressful.
In her highlight reel, Paige tells us about a couple of products that she is loving right now. The first is Asarasi Sparkling Water. She said it is a delicious, healthy substitute to any other carbonated drink your friends might be drinking. The 2nd thing she highlighted was a facewash and lotion combo from Neutrogena that help her to feel like her skin is staying hydrated even when she is training and playing in the cold. Lastly, she likes Bath & Body Works aromatherapy for the shower.
In her blooper reel, Paige tells us about a time she tried to show off and ended up on her face as a teenager.
Paige passes the ball to her teammate, Aubrey Bledsoe, who has always encouraged her to find joy.