EduKick Mexico: An Immersion in Soccer, Food, and Family

Lindsey Vandergrift

Sports were always an integral part of my life when I was growing up. With an outdoorsy family and two older brothers, I never lacked opportunities for athletic activities.

At the age of five, I had been skiing for two years already and playing on my brother’s baseball team. At five, my soccer career also officially began, on a rec team called the Rockets.

I played on this team for 6 years before being recruited to Badgers FC for state cup as part of the ’93 team.

I recall being anxious about the decision to desert my childhood rec team, but I haven’t looked back since, instead focusing on turning soccer into my sport. After my U-13 season, I switched to Emerald City FC, where I ascended to the A team a few months after initially making the B team.

Are you a student who has a deep love for soccer? Learn More about EduKick here.
Lindsey VandergriftUnfortunately in years critical to growing as a team, poor chemistry between the team and our coach meant two years of struggling, and unnecessary losses—of games and players, for many chose to leave the team despite its state-wide dominance in its early years.

A new coach in my U-16 year brought new promise, and we improved rapidly, trying to make up for lost time.

We made it to the semifinals of state cup, a complete turnaround from the previous years where bracket play or the first elimination round knocked us out of the tournament.

Due to complicated soccer politics, our team had to switch clubs in order to remain eligible for the most competitive leagues and tournaments, so my entire team moved to Seattle United FC, where they hoped we would be the new flagship team.

We were a really good team, but unfortunately the quarterfinals did us in both U-17 and U-18 years of state cup. We lack a state championship, but we achieved much success at the various showcases we attended throughout our high school years.

Despite our lack of titles, I am proud to have been a part of this team because we all loved each other like family.

Lindsey Vandergrift
We were very close, sharing many adventures and fond memories on our tournament trips. I think we had a love and connection to which not all teams are privy.

Tension or grudges never riddled our team, and we always played for each other.

Drama had no real home on our team, so instead of tension dividing the team for petty reasons, our love for the sport, our drive to succeed, and love for each other united us.

I highly value team chemistry. Luck has smiled upon me in that regard, because both of the teams for whom I played had good team chemistry. I partly attribute my high school team’s success to team chemistry because I think you need more than just skilled players to win high school state championships three years out of four.

We won the 1A State Championship every year except my junior year. I received many accolades for high school soccer, including Emerald City League 1st Team all four years, Emerald City League MVP my senior year, and 1A State MVP my senior year.

Here is a YouTube video of this year’s state-winning goal:

I am the one in the center who crossed the ball; fellow senior with whom I played on my various club teams scored the winning goal.

To our classmates, we are known as more than a team. We are a cult, with our nickname/acronym of SAVGS (Seattle Academy Varsity Girls Soccer) emblazoned on the sweatshirts and t-shirts we design each year ourselves, and I will find it difficult to leave such a successful and close-knit soccer program.

However, I have a new four years ahead of me at Williams College. Nestled in the northwestern corner of Massachusetts, Williams is a dominant Division 3 school in a league that highly emphasizes academics. (They’ve qualified for the NCAA tournament for the past nine years—knock on wood.)

I’m not yet sure what I want to study, although neuroscience greatly interests me. I do want to continue to pursue Spanish, which is part of the reason I chose to participate in EduKick.

Lindsey VandergriftEduKick Experience

As I began planning my summer earlier this year, I knew that soccer was going to and needed to dominate my summer since I needed to prepare for my first year of college soccer. Without endless college recruiting camps to pack in hours of extra playing, I needed to find a new way to get in that extra practice time before the season, hoping to come in a better player than when my college coach recruited me.

Like any modern-day technology user, to the Internet I went. I almost missed out on the EduKick experience because my research produced a different program first. However, after that program was cancelled, I very luckily found EduKick.

Lindsey VandergriftAs a Spanish student wanting more soccer practice, what could be a better fit than a program where you not only take Spanish classes (which were individual lessons in my case) but get to speak and hear Spanish every waking moment as live with a Mexican family and are immersed in Mexican culture?

(And food—immersed very well in Mexican food which I already miss dearly because our local taco trucks don’t compare.)

So off to Mexico I flew for two weeks of individual Spanish class (since there was nobody else at my level taking classes at the time) and individual soccer training by Armando Cosilion.

On the first day of practice, Armando corrected my shooting form. He told me that my head was coming up too soon on every shot. I made the adjustment, and the difference was immediate.

After that teaching point, I knew that I was in the hands of a perceptive and knowledgeable coach who was going to give me a great two weeks of training.

While two weeks is hardly long enough to see any improvement or change in someone’s game, those two weeks also gave me confidence as Armando tweaked my technique and taught me a wide array of new drills that I can implement when training with my friends at home.

Ready to take your game to the next level? Learn more here!
Lindsey VandergriftThe other aspect of my EduKick experience was living with Armando’s lovely family. Everyone welcomed me with open arms.

By the end I felt like one of the family and acted like one, too, as I offered to do chores because I didn’t want to feel like a burden.

Weekends brought family time at breakfast out on the town, visits to various beaches, and trips to the theater. We saw La Era de Hielo 4 (Ice Age 4) in Spanish and El Hombre de Araña 3 (Spiderman 3) in English.

Sometimes the trips to the theater meant humorously posing in front of the movie cutouts and taking pictures, which was nice because it showed everyone’s goofy side.

Overall, I would say that I was well-immersed during my stay in the lovely Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I enjoyed an array of new experiences, improved my Spanish, improved my soccer, and had the privilege of getting to know the Cosilion family.

I am strongly encouraging my family to return to Puerto Vallarta for our next vacation, so that I can introduce everyone and remember the fantastic new experiences that I had as a part of the EduKick Mexico program.

–Lindsey Vandergrift
Williams College Class of 2016

There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. BRAVO Lindsey!!! BRAVO!!!!

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