In South America, Soccer is more than just a sport, it's a way of life. Soccer runs through its descendants veins and is used as a scapegoat for what most know as an impoverished life. Coming up as a child, my first love was soccer, and the sheer passion of the game was passed down on to me from my Colombian-born parents; likewise their parent's passed down that same passion on to them. Similarly, this love for the game can be seen throughout my family, and it's never a dull moment when a soccer match comes on. Yet, even greater pride can be seen when we look at one of our very own family members, thriving because of soccer. Without further ado, I am proud to offer you guys a piece of Kelly's story and even prouder to call her my cousin, the collegiate soccer player.
#7 Keleyna "Kelly" Romoleroux, Nassau Community College | IG: @Keleyna_Kelly
Sophomore | Pos.: Mid | 5'4" | Right-Footer
For more info on the team and stats check out NCC's website at: http://www.ncc.edu/studentlife/athletics/theteams/womenssoccer/
A: How long have you been playing soccer? When did you realize it was your passion/favorite sport?
K: I’ve been playing soccer for as long as I can remember but if you want to put an age on when I started, I guess at the age of 3-4. But I can imagine that my father started rolling a ball to my feet the minute I learned how to walk. Because I've played for so long I grew such a love for the sport, and it was around the time I got into high school and started trying out for [the] varsity soccer [team], that I later realized the passion I had for the sport.
A: What does soccer mean to you? (How has soccer influenced your life?) And what does soccer mean to those close to you in your life?
K: Soccer means everything to me. It’s the reason who I am today, where I am in life, and the people I have in my life. My travel club team had a saying that character is built through soccer and I can honestly agree with that. I am a confident person because of soccer. Soccer has helped me stay active, fit and healthy.
My parents told me a story about a time they took me for a regular check up when I was around 1 or 2 years old. They said that the doctors discovered a small hole in my heart that should close by the age of 11. They recommended that I be put into a bunch of sports and activities to help the aid in the closure of the hole. I was [then] put into ballet, tap [dance], and soccer. Clearly, you can tell which activity won me over. I learned so many things because of soccer. Soccer teaches you so many things on and off the field and I’m pretty sure I can speak for my father, brother, and teammates that they can all agree with that.
A: How did you come to the decision to play for Nassau?
K: During Junior Year of high school, my heart was set on going away for college. UCF was my dream school and playing soccer for them would have been the ultimate dream but considering I was going through a rough patch during the beginning of my Senior Year - with college essays, applications, and so many other things were coming into play - I let things slip and the opportunity fell through the cracks. So I decided all together maybe it was a sign to stay home and go to Nassau Community College. When I enrolled, the first thing I thought about was speaking to the coach, at the time was Keith Detelj, to see when and if it was possible to try out for the team. When I got the response about when try outs were I also received a summer workout plan which got me so excited to play. I knew there was no question about trying out for the team and I don't regret a single thing.
A: What does it mean to you that you get to represent not only yourself, but your parents on the field?
K: Being that I am the only member in my family to have reached the goal of playing at the collegiate level is surreal. I’m proud of myself. I know my family is proud of me; they've come to support every chance they got. Knowing I get to put on that jersey because of them, because of everything that has brought me to this point really makes me have such a deep appreciation for what they've [my family] done for me and what I’ve done for myself. I will always feel a deep appreciation for being able to play the sport I love.
A: What would you say to a young aspiring soccer player trying to achieve success like you?
K: I wouldn't brag and say I’ve reached such success because I’m still striving for bigger and better things in my soccer career. But if I had anything to say to someone who aspires to play at the college level, it would be to make sure you love it with all your heart, because people will test your strength and your will to play. They're going to tell you, you weren't made to do it. They’re going to belittle your hopes and dreams, but if you really love it nothing will stop you from proving them wrong.
A: Describe in detail your typical day as both a college student and a college athlete?
K: On a typical day, I would be lugging around two backpacks to my car every morning; One with school books and one with soccer attire. I would usually leave one in my car and change immediately after my last class and rush to practice. I usually would have attended 2-3 classes during the day, with my first class starting at 8:30am and my last class ending at 2:15pm. Then, I would have soccer practice at 2:30pm. Practice would usually consist of fitness, small drills, and then be put into a game like scenario. On days before gamedays, practice is rather light to keep us from feeling tired and to prevent injuries. Our practice usually runs till 4:30pm and then I'd head either home to relax and do homework or head to work. During the hotter weather here in NY, I had to make sure I had at least two water bottles with me for the day and maybe another for practice. When it gets colder, the only thing that mattered to me was soccer pants because getting a ball darted at your leg in cold weather and wind is really painful.
A: What aspirations do you have as a College Soccer player? As a college student?
K: Knowing now how it feels to play at the collegiate level and having been a part of a National Championship tournament, I strive to play for another school for the two remaining years I have as a college athlete. I am determined to graduate from Nassau in May 2017, and have been speaking to coaches of SUNY colleges and other private universities. However, my ultimate goal as a college student is graduating with a Ph.D in Psychology.
A: Who's your favorite soccer player/team? Why?
K: I have a few favorite players but my top two have to be Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid and Alex Morgan from the USWNT. They're both talented players who have amazing back stories on how they make it big. If you’ve seen how these two play, their game speaks for itself.
A: Tell us about your favorite in-game soccer memory.
K: I don’t really know if I have one specific in-game memory [that's my favorite] but I’d have to say that every game I’ve ever played from when I was little till now and every goal I can remember scoring are probably my favorites. Everything leading up to the goal and the goal itself brings such a high and proud feeling.
A: Who's your biggest inspiration? Why?
K: When it comes to soccer, one of my biggest inspirations has to be my father. He’s definitely the one who suggested I be put into soccer at such a young age. He’s in his mid 40s now and he’s still up and playing. He has such a love for the sport and I admire that he still goes out to play with his friends. I know that when he was younger he went through some really tough times in Colombia. He told me once, that he had the chance to go professional and that would have only been possible if he stayed in Colombia. But considering what was going on at the time in the country, he had to leave that opportunity behind and leave the country all together with his siblings to come to the United States for a better life filled with better opportunities.
A: Your mom is Peruvian, your dad is Colombian, Describe to us what it's like in your house when both these South American teams face off against each other.
K: These games are probably my favorite games to watch. Being there in the venue when they play against each other is a completely different atmosphere than what it’s like to watch it at home. But every time they come on I can’t seem to pick a side. At times I just wear a Colombian jersey because they’re the only new and updated jerseys in this house, and because I have a huge crush on #10, James Rodriguez. But my heart is happy for both teams when they score and win. Although, I'm also delighted to see them tie because I know neither of my parents will be gloating about their country being the better country.
A: How does it feel to be better than your older brother Blake at Soccer?
K: I wouldn't say I’m better than him because I’m pretty sure he can score a goal or two on me if we played one on one. But I know at the level I play nowadays, I can give him some good competition.