Christina Rico, a fifth-year double major in sociology and linguistics, currently serves as the newly-appointed captain of the UTM varsity women’s soccer team.
She began her soccer career at the age of nine, initially being enrolled in dance classes by her parents. But, Rico’s love of soccer soon took over. She began her competitive soccer career at age 11, where she played for the North Mississauga Soccer Club for four years before switching to the Mississauga Falcons Soccer Club, where her father served as the team manager. She played at the premiere level, and said that when coming to UTM, the competition was definitely more intense, because she wasn’t used to playing with girls who were up to four years older than her.
However, now, almost 13 years later, her devotion to the sport has led her to become the leader on the UTM women’s team.
“To mentally prepare other people, you have to mentally prepare yourself first,” Rico says of motivating her teammates before a game. She adds that getting into the right mindset first is crucial, because energy and positivity carries over to other people. She also finds that readying her soccer bag the night before a game helps her gather her thoughts and focus on the game ahead.
Rico also commends the current head coach Damian Yearwood for striking a great balance between seriousness and fun. She explains that he succeeds at making practices an enjoyable and non-intimidating environment, while still working on improving as a whole unit. Rico also believes that Sonia Rocha, the new assistant coach to Yearwood, was a great addition to the team.
As Rico approaches her fifth and final year of study, she speaks very highly of the new varsity soccer program that was put into effect last year. She explains how the program is still developing, and has improved over the past year, though it still has quite a ways to go.
Rico also adds how much soccer has taught her over the years. She believes that soccer teaches someone how to work with and understand people, how to be a leader and support others, and how the sport can lead to friendships.
Regarding team dynamic and overall play, Rico says that the environment is a positive one. She adds that there are 18 girls who are together almost six days a week, which naturally leads to some disagreements—but what makes a good team is how you bounce back from those moments.