Catching Up with Dynasty GK Caroline Stanley
Caroline Stanley first attended Dynasty Goalkeeping as a student back in 2009. She attended camp for several years rising through our Elite program into our Pro Week as a college player, and eventually joined our ranks as a staff coach in 2014. Even as a youth player Caroline stood out from other female goalkeepers in her physical strength, power, footwork, commitment to technical proficiency, and intensity. She was competitive, passionate, and willing to do whatever it took. These were the qualities I saw back then in her that have remain constant and consistent throughout the years carrying her through her career from KCFC, to the U.S. Youth National Team, USC, and now to the NWSL Seattle Reign. Caroline recently finished her first season playing in with the Reign and took the time to reflect on her journey in her blog. She shares some great insights that I feel are super valuable for the youth goalkeepers out there in our community. Biggest lesson? Playing professionally ISN’T easy or for the meek! It takes consistent hard work and thick skin!
Here is more on her evolution as a player and person in her own words. Thank you for sharing Caroline!
I just wrapped up my first rookie year in the league. What a wild ride it’s been. Lots of sweat, some blood, and maybe even more tears haha! I’m confident enough to admit to that though. It’s been the most challenging year of my career. I have learned so much more about myself as a player, a competitor, and about the game in this short season than I thought I would. I still wake up and can’t believe I get to play a game, yes a game for my job. It’s what I dreamed of as a kid! And hopefully I’ll continue to live out that dream and reach other goals I’ve set for myself. I’m not sure what comes next. But I want to share what I leave this season having learned.
There are no shortcuts on the road to success.
I could write a novel on this. (Maybe one day) I’ve been told this repeatedly my entire life. My parents were athletes and coaches, and the “hard work beats talent” mentality was ingrained in me and my siblings at a young age. There are SO many talented players in college. But if you aren’t doing exactly what you need to succeed-taking care of your body, training right, proper nutrition, and working on your weaknesses, it WILL be exposed at the next level. AKA the pros. There is no shortcut. It’s messy, and exhausting, and challenging and at times it beats you down. But if it’s your dream, and it’s what you love, then the journey is worth the triumph and trials.
College to the Pros is a BIG transition.
A talent gap. A speed gap. An intelligence gap. There’s a big switch up in the level of all of these aspects. In college, I felt I had a lot more time to read a play, to glance and read a players hips, their eyes, and narrow down their options. My first few months in the league were a huge challenge because of the speed of play. At times, I felt in over my head. My technique was picked apart (for good reason) and I had to think even farther ahead. Every play of every session was a challenge. But it was fun for me to be pushed to a limit I hadn’t been pushed to. I would be lying if I said there weren’t days I got in my car and thought, I might not be good enough for this… I definitely had self-doubt. But I never doubted my dream, or the willingness I have to work for it. I’m self aware. I understand I am not the most talented. But I promised myself I would do absolutely anything to be the hardest worker, and most coach-able in order to grow as a goalkeeper, and a person and to continue to hunt greatness.
Learning from the best helps too.
I had the great opportunity to learn from Hope, THE best goalkeeper in the history of the game, and Haley, one of the best goalkeepers in the country. All three of us being lead and pushed by Ben. A group that put hours and hours into the smallest of details. They taught me so much. Season flew by honestly because everyday I was a sponge- soling up the knowledge and wisdom these two bring to the game. Learning from different styles of goalkeeping, and trying new things. An open-mind, and willingness to shut up and listen helps too (still mastering this). When you do all of this, slowly but surely, the speed of play is manageable and hey, then you’re making saves and making a difference in training. Then you can move on to more intricate values of the game. And you look back and a couple months ago you weren’t making the saves you are now. It’s called progress. It happens slowly and sometimes all at once. Patience and persistence is key.
Anything can happen.
Anything. Seriously. I wasn’t drafted. Things won’t be handed to you in life. But anything can happen. I went to Seattle with high hopes but a realistic attitude. Did I ever think I’d get signed? Not really. But I never stopped hoping. Did I ever think I’d play in a game? Definitely not. But I never stopped training. You have to prepare. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Trades happen. Injuries happen. You can’t get down on yourself for too long because you never know when your name will be called on. Your shot could be around the corner, but if you’re still sitting down where you fell you’ll never rise to the occasion when your opportunity arrives.
In conclusion I leave y’all with this. Despite where I fall on a depth chart, how I train that day, what team I play for, win or lose, I’m still living my dream. I’m young, fresh, healthy and I’m willing to work harder than anyone for that dream. I grew more mentally this year than I did being a starter and captain every year in college. You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I absolutely love what I do and what opportunities it gives me on and off the field. I am thankful for the support I have and the friends that push me and keep me going. I feel thankful for the opportunities I’ve had so far and can’t wait to see what happens next. I thank Seattle for an incredible rookie season!! A season I’ll never forget. Regular season champions. Incredible. Despite the way the season ended, I feel honored and humbled to have been apart of this years team and can’t wait for next season! I love this team! Top to bottom, this team is unique, talented, and unbelievable.
All I hope for is to continue to play, work towards my goals, and to become who I want through the process. There’s so much more work to be done. So many things to learn. More laughs to be had, and relationships to build. There’s no ceiling.
Off-season is like going through a break up. You see it coming but you don’t really think it’s going to happen and then all of a sudden it just hits you and it’s there and it’s over. BOOM! Done. What happened? You think about all the wins and the good memories. All you want is season back! And you miss it so much and you’re just kind of sad and angry, and so you do what a lot of people do when they go through a break up, or for me off-season…you’re sad, a little lonely (without your teammates) and a little pissed off (or a lot, I hate losing) with how it ended so you do logical thing… to go back to the drawing board and figure out your life. You start training your ass off and think about what you can do better next time. And everyday you wake up and do it all over again until the wounds have healed and it’s time for season again. Hunt greatness. Dream big. Work even harder. And always keep the faith.
Here’s to the journey called life and following your dreams.
Thanks for reading!
I believe one of Caroline’s best qualities to be her passion. It infiltrates and permeates all aspects of her being. It is what makes Caroline uniquely Caroline. Not only does she talk the talk, but more importantly she walks the walk. She puts in the time, but she also GIVES BACK to others. She is a great role model for young players out there. In addition to her obvious passion to becoming the best goalkeeper she can be, Caroline is a passionate leader both on and off the field, not afraid to speak what she feels and get involved in the community. One of the ways she leads off the field is as an Ambassador for The Young and the Brave Foundation helping raise awareness and spreading LOVE for those who are young and brave and battling cancer.
KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK STAN! This is just the beginning of a long and successful career!