Friendship Q&A: Relationships make titles even more enjoyable for DMCV
Two-time defending US Youth Soccer National Champions DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S) have shown great teamwork and chemistry to claim titles in 2013 and 2014. Even more impressive than their on-field performance may be the cohesiveness and friendships the players have created off the field.
DMCV captain Shelby Lee talked to US Youth Soccer about the team’s success and how enjoyable the game can be when you are playing with some of your best friends.
How long have you and your team been together?
Some of the girls have been on the team since around U-11 or so. I came to the team at U-14, at around U-15 is when we solidified the team and stuck with that whole squad. So, we have been playing together for about four years.
What makes a good teammate?
A good teammate is somebody who is willing to put in the work off the field and make the sacrifices needed for the team. All the girls on my team are great teammates. We all work really hard and push each other off the field. We worry about not only our individual fitness, but we help push each other because we know we’re a whole unit. A good teammates recognizes that and offers help off the field, offers help on the field, as well as pushing themselves individually.
What is your favorite memory with the team?
Oh, man. There’s so many of them. I think literally everything about this team is a great memory. The most recent one, I would say, is winning the National Championships again. That was pretty awesome. It put an exclamation point on our whole soccer career as a team. We’re still the same team, but we lost six seniors and that was like an ending that showed we’re not going to go down easy. That was a great memory because we ended on top with everyone there.
Do you and your team hang out off the field?
All the time. The week before we went to Nationals we hung out with each other probably the whole week. The girls often are hanging out and sleeping over, especially during the summer. We’re always hanging out with each other. We laugh because our best teams are on the soccer team, and we go to school and we’re like ‘Wait, what happened to all my friends?’ We spend so much time together. It’s a unique friendship we all have.
Do you have a typical activity you’ll do together?
On days when we all hang out, we usually go to the beach. We’ll do take-out lunch or pack a lunch and just hang out for hours. Sometimes we’ll play soccer. Sometimes we’ll just go swimming. Sometimes we just help each other put on tanning oil — got to work off the soccer tan.
How much can chemistry and friendships off the field help the team while you are playing?
Felicia has told us many times, she’s coached a lot of teams over the years, she’s told us how unique it is to have a team with such a good bond off the field. That’s the only thing I’ve ever known — being on a team that is this close. I don’t have anything to compare it to. From what she tells us, it’s very unique and cool.
When you trust someone off the field, it just helps trust them on the field. You know not to take things personally on the field because you’re friends off the field. It’s just a cool dynamic you can have. We’re just really lucky. Usually, a group of 20 girls isn’t all smiles, but we’re very fortunate.
How special has it been to win two National titles with this group?
I don’t know if it can even be described. It’s been such a journey. The first time we won it was amazing and totally different from the second time. The preparation, everything, you go in with a different mentality. It went from going in the first time and saying, ‘Oh, this is really cool. Look at how fun this is. We’re going to do this together.’ Then, the second time we were like, ‘This is our last tournament as a full squad. We have to defend it.’ There was a lot more pressure to do it again. To end on top was just awesome.
If you're talking to a younger kid who is thinking of starting soccer, what would you say about the opportunities to make friends and creating those relationships?
I would say when you play soccer, you meet a group of people who have a lot in common with you. All the girls on our team understand the sacrifices, we all understand the thrills you get from succeeding in soccer. We all go through the same things. We may experience them differently, but we all understand and get the different things that are going on. Those are the kind of friends who just get you.