How many students out there can say they were given the opportunity to sit down and interview a professional soccer player who represents Portland? I am fortunate enough to be one of the four students to receive this unique opportunity to put my bilingual ability to use in a fun way.
I had already narrowed down my choice to interviewing one of the ladies from the Portland Thorns FC and then came across Emily Menges, who has received numerous accolades such as ‘Big East Defensive Player’ as well as ‘One of the most decorated players in program history at Georgetown’. I really found it interesting how not only do we share the same name but also play the same position on the field: Defense. Menges was born in Garden City, New York where she played for The Albertson Fury ’91 and for The Hoyas in Georgetown where she attended college, as well as for Long Island Fury in Uniondale.
Something very interesting about Menges is that during her senior year in college in Washington D.C, she managed to balance her school work and soccer. While her teammates trained twice a day, Menges would head back to D.C to finish her studies. Menges would join the team the day before matches to train, but otherwise Menges would train on her own with former coaches at Georgetown. Having to fly across the globe frequently seems very exhausting. For that reason, I asked Menges if there were ever times when she encountered major stress, and if it was hard for her to focus when it came time to set foot on the soccer field knowing she had homework.
“I would focus on school when I was at school, and I would focus on soccer when I was at soccer. I trained like you said, with some of my coaches and teammates back in D.C, but it was definitely stressful having to explain to my teachers that I was missing days at a time of classes where Georgetown is very strict with attendance. So that was hard because they didn’t understand that this was now my job and I got paid for this. That was the most stressful part - just having to get my teachers on board.”
Menges also mentioned how she had talked to the Washington Spirit coach. Since their complex was near Georgetown University where she was attending school, she decided to schedule all her classes for the afternoon, so even if she was not drafted, she could go practice with Washington Spirit every morning at all their training sessions and attempt to try out for that team. Then she started talking to Paul Riley when he suddenly became a coach and Menges was soon drafted to Portland as a member of the Portland Thorns FC. Menges then made her first appearance with the Thorns on April 12, 2014. One of my favorite responses I received from Menges was when I asked her about the best advice she has ever received and she responded with such a great metaphor:
“Something my mom would always say is, ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,’ meaning don’t focus on one thing. Everything is important. Life is not all about soccer, all about school, all about being healthy. Don’t shut one thing out of your life just because you think you’ve got to focus more on another.”
I thought this was such a great metaphor and perspective. It is definitely a piece of advice that I will forever remember and carry with me.
Emily Menges is not only a great defensive player but also has such a lovable and friendly personality. She is so sweet and welcoming. At first, I was a bit nervous to start the interview, but once I started talking to Emily, she was such a sweetheart and made me feel like we had talked before. It was overall a great experience. I even had the chance to purchase a Portland Thorns soccer ball that Emily Menges signed for me and she even offered to take my Portland Thorns soccer ball to her teammates into their locker room so they could sign it for me. This was an unforgettable experience that I am so thankful for and will cherish forever.