Sofia Huerta is having the career she knew she could have

On September 21 of their sport towards Gotham FC, OL Reign defender Sofia Huerta was the sixteenth participant in NWSL historical past to achieve the milestone of 150 NWSL steady season appearances. She joined teammates Jess Fishlock (May 29, 2022) and Lauren Barnes (May 15, 2022) in that improbable accomplishment.

“Wow, I’ve been in the league for a long time,” Huerta started her mirrored image on achieving the milestone when she spoke with Ride of the Valkyries final week, previous to OL Reign’s regular-season finale towards Orlando Pride. OL Reign received that fit 3-0, securing first position and the NWSL Shield.

“To have such a long career, I’m really proud of and I’m just really thankful I’m on the Reign and able to celebrate that milestone. 150 games is a lot of games, and my career has definitely been one that’s had a lot of ups and downs. It’s been difficult at times and not the most enjoyable, but I think I’ve been able to stay the course and really believe in myself, and I think the milestone kind of represents that,” she mirrored.

“There were so many times in my career where I just didn’t know what it was gonna look like, so again, I’m so happy to have met that milestone with the Reign and really proud of myself. I appreciated my time in Chicago and Houston, but I’m just really thankful to be here and of course to be back on the national team. So really, thankful and grateful for everyone that’s been with me on the journey.”

After starting her professional career at the Chicago Red Stars in 2015, the place she was once drafted eleventh total, then getting traded to the Houston Dash in 2018, Huerta after all joined OL Reign and extra in particular returned to the comforts of house in the Pacific Northwest in 2020. The out of doors view could have been interpreted as her career coming to a crossroads, if now not a last-chance saloon. Reflecting on when it was once respectable that she was once becoming a member of OL Reign, Huerta spoke of aid from including any additional power on herself.

“I remember thinking like I needed to change in my career when I was at Houston,” she stated. “I’ve always wanted to be on the Reign, for many reasons. Obviously, the club has a really great reputation on and off the field and I want to be there. So when it happened I thought it could really be a good thing for my career.”

While there was once no steady season that yr on account of the pandemic, there was once the Challenge Cup, however Huerta recollects wearing an damage via the festival and that a focal point on her psychological well being noticed her via any doubts that the transfer to OL Reign wasn’t what she was hoping it could be.

“I did get hurt in the 2020 Challenge Cup, new faces were being called in and so I did have this thought of like, you know, maybe it’s not gonna happen for me,” she recalled. “But you don’t need to put that more or less power on your self, as a result of I might have had that mentality the complete time, after which possibly I wouldn’t have been in a excellent scenario once I did get the alternative.

“So I knew it was gonna be a good thing when I got traded to the Reign, but I just tried to take the pressure off a little bit and change my definition of success because it’s so easy to think about what you’re not accomplishing, what you’re not doing. Instead, focus on what’s happening right in front of me: I’ve had a long career in the NWSL, I’m a professional athlete, and I get to play soccer for my career. And once I took the pressure off of, ‘I need to get back on the national team or I’m not successful,’ it became easier every day to have that narrative. I felt more free as opposed to, ‘Oh my gosh, this is my opportunity, I have to take advantage.’ It’s no, I’ve been preparing for this, and I’m okay.”

The paintings on her psychological well being comes from having a lifestyles trainer in Lisa McClenahan, whom Huerta discussed when Jeff Kassouf profiled her throughout the CONCACAF W Championship this previous summer season in Mexico. Huerta has been running with McClenahan for the previous seven years.


While Huerta was once with the United States for that event, which they received and punched their price ticket to subsequent yr’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Ride of the Valkyries spoke together with her OL Reign teammates Veronica Latsko, Nikki Stanton, and assistant trainer Sam Laity. All 3 praised the laborious paintings ethic that she brings on a daily basis to coaching, even prior to being right here at OL Reign. Stanton was once Huerta’s teammate in Chicago in 2018 previous to Huerta’s industry to Houston that season, and Latsko was once her teammate at the Dash. All 3 used the identical phrase in describing Huerta’s expansion over the years: self assurance. That ethos introduced her to OL Reign, the place she’s been thriving and is again on the nationwide staff.

“You know what I learned about confidence? I’d listen to podcasts that would say, no one’s born with confidence, but I think definitely people are born with some, but confidence can be gained. It’s like what you’re doing every day to ensure you’re feeling good, and confidence is something you can work on. I feel like my whole career I have depended on my confidence — almost too much. It was like when I was feeling confident I was doing really well and when I wasn’t feeling confident, I wasn’t doing well. I didn’t want my play on the field to be determined by that, and if it was going to be determined by that I needed it to be a more consistent thing. I think it’s common in professional sports for your confidence to waver and for it to go through ups and downs, but I think it’s asking: what can you do every day to just fill that cup?”

The self assurance Huerta brings on the box is as a result of she works on lifestyles off the box to be simply as wholesome. With her sister dwelling in the Puget Sound area and her oldsters simply a few hours away in Boise, Idaho, she’s discovering that steadiness.

“It’s been really great to be so close to all of them,” Huerta stated. “My sister lives down the street and then obviously my parents have more incentive to come here now because they can see both of us at once, so it’s been really nice having them. Sometimes I think we can get so caught up in soccer unfortunately, like it is our lives, but sometimes we’re in this bubble and we’re making it more than we need to. So when you can kind of just be more present, that definitely can help with your performances.”

Part of that lifestyles off the box was once just lately featured when she took section in Saks Fifth Avenue’s unfold celebrating Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month final month.

“I didn’t get to talk about [my heritage] a lot when I was younger, just because it didn’t seem like it was celebrated or it didn’t seem too important,” Huerta stated when requested about being approached via Saks for the profile. “So I never really was able to share my experiences about growing up or going to Mexico twice a year, being able to be with my family, and how much I really am proud of being Mexican-American. So I was so excited to do that.”

Training at Lyon

After the Challenge Cup in 2020, Huerta, in conjunction with ahead Bethany Balcer and then-teammate, defender Celia, traveled to France for a few months, the place the trio were given to coach with OL Reign’s sister membership, Olympique Lyonnais. The relaxation is historical past so far as coaching along and forming relationships with prolific avid gamers like Dzsenifer Marozsán, Eugénie Le Sommer, and Sarah Bouhaddi, however what additionally stood out to Huerta was once the high quality of the coaching surroundings in Lyon against this to the amenities that OL Reign is nonetheless running to give a boost to. Earlier this week, the Sally Yates document investigating systemic abuse in the NWSL discussed OL Reign in the greater context of golf equipment nonetheless missing a professional-quality coaching facility.

“The things that [Lyon] have, it’s a completely different environment and setup than we have here,” Huerta recollects. “Obviously, we’re trying our best to get there, but that was my initial reaction when I went there. Just wow, this is what it feels to be a true professional, and it was such a great experience. Just having that feeling of having everything set up, having a chef, all of that can add to feeling confident and feeling really good. Unfortunately, a lot of the teams in the NWSL don’t have that setup, and I think that’s the goal to get there in the U.S.”

“It’s time and we want to win.”

Shifting to the provide, when OL Reign completed the steady season final weekend above rival Portland Thorns FC and received the NWSL Shield for the 3rd time in membership historical past, it was once a end result of the staff achieving their height at the proper time. Looking again at how the whole thing labored out in OL Reign’s choose, which enabled their regular-season finale fit to be one thing of a coronation, there was once normal settlement that their ultimate highway commute, that includes a gauntlet of 3 fits in per week and six,000 miles of go back and forth, confirmed the mettle of the avid gamers.

“This team is really special,” Huerta stated when requested if there was once one thing other about this season’s squad. “We have a lot of memories on the team and so we all know how it feels to get to the end of the season. You know what it’s like to have a pretty good season, get to the very end, and not win. And I feel like we’re all at the point where you know, it’s time and we want to win.”

The method OL Reign completed the steady season suggests the staff’s run in the upcoming NWSL Playoffs could be one thing particular. And that one thing particular could lift over into subsequent yr for Sofia Huerta. A yr from now, amongst the many doable accomplishments she could have on her resume, in all probability the legitimate athlete strolling the runway of a New York Fashion Week display is considered one of them?

“Ha, only if they let me walk in flats.”

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