By | Alexandra McLaughlin ’16

As Georgia Cloepfil ’14 walked across the stage at graduation, she never imagined she’d be playing professional soccer in Australia a few months later.

An English major, she found work at Common Good Books and the Star Tribune newspaper. But she missed playing soccer. Knee surgery in the spring of her senior year had delayed her plans to find a professional team. After months of networking, Cloepfil connected with a coach in Australia, who watched a video of Cloepfil playing soccer and offered her a spot on his team.  

And then Cloepfil hesitated. “I was always thinking Europe because that’s the only place I’d known people to play abroad,” she says. The decision to pack up her life and move halfway across the world did not come easily. But with encouragement from family and friends, Cloepfil boarded a plane for Melbourne last February.

She joined a team made up primarily of Australians—ranging in age from 16 to 32—who played every weekend. “That’s pretty standard when it comes to leagues abroad,” Cloepfil says. “It’s really nice—, and different from college when we had three games a week. I can’t even imagine that now. Recovering from one game a week is enough.”

Cloepfil coached younger players and worked in the club’s offices. She also learned to surf and traveled around Australia on her free weekends.

A soccer player since age four, Cloepfil credits Macalester for affirming her love of the game. She avoided the burnout that many of her friends went through at other schools. “I continue to play because I still love it, and I still love it because I had such a great time at Macalester,” Cloepfil says.

Her passion for soccer is rivaled only by her passion for writing—two interests Cloepfil hopes to combine in the future. She is writing a book about her experiences in the sport and eventually hopes to attend graduate school in creative writing.

But for now, Cloepfil has solely soccer on the mind. “It’s really hard  to turn down an offer to get paid to play soccer,” she says. The latest such opportunity will take her to Sweden for a six-month season starting in April. Eventually Cloepfil could see herself playing in Europe’s Champions League .

Looking back, Cloepfil remembers feeling a lot of pressure as she was leaving Macalester. “I felt like everyone was on their way to riches and the perfect job, and I didn’t know—I still don’t know—what that is,” she says. “I want to be a writer, but I also really want to play soccer.”

She urges members of this year’s graduating class to do what they want, and not give in to the pressure of immediately doing something that aligns with their degree.

Walking across the stage at graduation, Cloepfil had no idea she’d soon be kicking a soccer ball in Australia. But she’s so happy she ended up there. “Being able to travel, meeting new people, having it so easy to live in another country—your visa’s sorted, your plane flight’s sorted—that’s really cool,” Cloepfil says.

But what she most appreciates is the opportunity to continue playing. “That’s the biggest thing for me,” she says. “Everything else is a bonus.”

March 28 2016

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