Sports Spotlight — Anneliese Coleman


Cleats blistering sore feet, sweat flooding from every pore, an unquenchable thirst for victory at all costs. Before interviewing Anneliese Coleman, a current junior and one of the captains of the Keystone soccer team, this is what I thought soccer denoted, a cutthroat competition to win every game to succeed. However, after the interview, Anneliese showed me the essence of every sport she plays: creating a community. More than just competition, sports for Anneliese has evolved into an essential aspect of daily life, calming and rejuvenating her to persist through life’s struggles. 

Anneliese’s soccer story starts with her family. Since childhood, she has fond memories of her father juggling a soccer ball and playing soccer with her siblings. Soccer for her meant spending time with her family, the most important people in her life. Consequently, when she was old enough for club soccer, she instantly joined. 

Today, Anneliese plays both in Keystone’s co-ed soccer team and in all-girls club soccer. Reflecting on the differences between the two, Anneliese said that club soccer was far more competitive than the laid-back Keystone soccer team. Club soccer has two seasons, fall and spring, but Keystone only offers soccer for the fall season. When playing in a co-ed team, girls tend to have a slight physical disadvantage, but that never fazed Anneliese, as the environment is friendly and welcoming. However, sometimes, club soccer’s merciless competition can lead to toxicity.

In a club soccer team, the coaches must be selective, picking the best players for their first and second teams. Because of this, while there is a sense of teamwork to win, every team member is also competing with each other to get on the first team. This can be further promulgated by the coach: Anneliese reflected an instance of when a coach ignored rudeness within the members, almost encouraging it. Given all of this, when Anneliese broke her ankle in 7th grade, upon returning to the club soccer team on recovery, she fell behind everyone else, and the toxicity eventually led her to take a year-long break from soccer. 

During this break, Anneliese felt like “something was missing” in her life. Having played soccer ever since she could walk, suddenly losing the sport unsettled her, leading her to eventually once again enter the world of soccer. 

Anneliese joined a new club soccer team which fostered collaboration among team members and was led by a supportive coach, overall aligning with her values. During a tournament, when Anneliese’s quads hurt during a game with limited substitutes, she felt obligated to push herself through the next two games for the team. The coach, however, encouraged her to put herself first instead of persisting through the pain. For Anneliese, this understanding that a player’s health is paramount is essential for any team she plays on.

Beyond soccer, Anneliese also competes in “summer swim” and the Keystone softball team. During summer, she wakes up every morning to practice for summer swim, casual neighborhood swim competitions, from 7:00-8:00. Once again, Anneliese’s sense of community shined as she attributed her love for summer swim to the fun, collaborative environment: as everyone competes in their races, their teammates are around the pool, cheering them on. The final sport Anneliese plays is softball on the Keystone team. Through the welcoming Keystone culture, she was able to learn a new sport—vastly different from what she usually plays—and compete and excel in it. 

Entering the final half of her high school career, Anneliese plans to continue playing sports, specifically soccer, at least recreationally throughout university. For any future soccer athletes, she advises them to seek out role models in your sport, as they will share their stories and experiences. In fact, Anneliese is already a strong role model in soccer, and she is open to helping anyone interested. Furthermore, Anneliese adds that if anyone is interested in sports, explore it through the healthy community of Keystone sports.