Olufolasade “Sade” Adamolekun – USC Soccer

“At age five, my parents had both my older brother and I participate in many sports (basketball, tennis, soccer) with the YMCA. My brother being 2 ½ years older than I, allowed me to tag-a-long with my parents to his games. While he was playing his games, I would play world cup with my brother’s teammates younger siblings who all happened to be boys. Little did I know that this additional playing time would accelerate my development and passion for the game of soccer.” 

“As a result of my accelerated development, since the age of seven, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play up 2-4 years which continued to help me to improve technically and tactically. At the age of 12, I earned the opportunity to be called up to the US U-17 national team camp. During the ages from 12 to 14, I was consistently called into national team camps for US U-17, U-15, and U-14 levels and was the youngest but the top goal scorer and assister with my club teams. At the age of 14, my parents and coaches began to notice a difference in my performance. I was still doing club trainings and 1-on-1 trainings with my brother and putting in the same, if not, more effort in my trainings. But despite my efforts, it became noticeably more difficult to keep up with my teammates at all levels. My coaches began to question my commitment to the game, and I became more confused and unable to understand what was happening. After a year of inconsistent performances at the club and national team levels, my parents requested some medical testing to be done. I was diagnosed with low iron levels which resulted in my body’s inability to receive enough oxygen into the bloodstream. This had a direct impact on my endurance on the field. My doctor was surprised at my low level of iron and that I was even able to play without passing out in a game, and described it as playing a 90 minute game at the top of Mount Everest where you would be unable to get enough oxygen to sustain your body. I was now 15, and had to receive two iron infusions and had adjust my diet and vitamin intake to consistently get my iron to normal levels. My coaches and teammates had lost confidence in my abilities, but finally getting this diagnosis helped everyone understand that my performance wasn’t about me not wanting to put in the effort, but was due to a physical ailment and totally out of my control.”

“Having gone through the experience of working hard, gaining success, and earning the confidence of my parents, coaches, and teammates at an early age; and then in a blink of an eye having my performance unexplainably drop off, resulting in everyone doubting me and my commitment was a transformational experience for me.”

“I learned three important life lessons through this experience: (1) with God’s grace, I am ultimately in control of my own destiny and my confidence must originate from within and I must no longer depend on others to validate my capabilities and/or my future potential. (2) I needed to take ownership of and advocate for myself as a female athlete. (3) I now know the individuals I can depend on unconditionally, not just when things are going well, but most importantly during the difficult times.”

“Today, three years later, I am even more focused and determined to achieve my goals athletically and academically. Since this experience, I’ve had the following achievements: (1) I’ve earned a scholarship to play NCAA Division 1 soccer at the University of Southern California; (2) received a call up to the u-18 US national team; (3) represented the u-17 and u-20 Jamaican national team at world cup qualification levels, (4) at the age of 18 was a member of the historic Jamaica Senior Women’s national team “Reggae Girlz” that became the first Caribbean nation to participate in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, (5) represented the Senior “Reggae Girlz” at the Pan-American games, (6) represented the Senior ”Reggae Girlz” at the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers, (7) and made the PAC-12 All-Freshman team.”

“As a black woman and athlete, my journey has been fraught with successes, but also many challenges. But from my perspective, I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of these cumulative experiences. I now live each day with the realization that (a) I am the architect of my future and not a victim of my past, (b) my mentality determines my reality, (c) my attitude determines my altitude.”

“I recently had the idea to form an association to help effect positive change and break down barriers to help advocate for social justice. Along with my fellow founding members, I’m proud to share that on June 17th, 2020 we were able to launch the United Black Student-Athlete Association at the University of Southern California to provide a platform in partnership with the administration to help bridge any gaps in racial equality in our school’s academic and athletic programs.”

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