Player Blogs

International Postcard with Kristen Edmonds: Dive in! Russia Style.

A soccer junkie, a competitor, an underdog, and a hard worker with determination, attitude, skill, will and passion describes me, and what it took for me to become a professional soccer player.  My name is Kristen Edmonds and I am currently playing for WFC Rossiyanka in Russia.  It’s a dream come true to be traveling the world while playing the sport I love.  A lot has happened on my road to making this dream a reality.  After college I went to a tryout in the women’s professional league in the USA.  Going in with no name, as an underdog, I didn’t show enough and get a chance to go to preseason.  So I moved up to NY for the summer to play for the Quickstrike Lady Blues in the W-league.  The next season I tried again and got the opportunity to go into preseason with NJ Sky Blue.  Unfortunately, I picked up an injury and got cut right before the final roster was released. With the Lady Blues we won two regular season championships. After that success, my professional career began.

league champsIcelandic League Champions (Photo courtesy of Eva Bjork)

Iceland called my name and I jumped at the opportunity.  The country was amazing.  I made new friends, enjoyed many exciting new experiences, and Stjarnan was a great team to play for.  We won the Icelandic league which qualified us for the champions league for next season.  Again there was one small issue.  Halfway through the season I injured my ankle and had to have reconstructive surgery.  I was devastated!  Was soccer still a part of my future? Determined to get myself back to playing at the highest level, I wasn’t giving up on this dream.  I am very grateful and fortunate to have the support system that I do, which allowed me to focus solely on my recovery, and because of that and a lot of hard work, I recovered extremely fast. The only thing holding me back was doubt.  Nobody wanted to take a chance on someone just getting back to her feet, so I played another summer in the US in the W-league with the NJ Wildcats.  After that, I thought about staying in the US and playing in the professional league, but my heart was set on traveling the world and playing soccer, so I decided I wanted to go back to Europe.  Rossiyanka called, and this time I didn’t quite jump at the opportunity.

575577_4088216863974_603940935_nPlaying in a match in Russia (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

I’m not going to lie, it took some convincing and I had to do a little research.  There were doubts from family and friends and after a lot of back and forth I decided to go for it.  I was going to go on trial and meet the team in Cyprus for their preseason camp.  This is where I fell in love with my teammates, coaches, Rossiyanka as a whole.  They were a champions league team, and I felt that I deserved to play in that tournament due to the fact that I was part of a team that had qualified for this season especially. We got to travel a lot, we were treated extremely well, and we were one of the top teams not only in Russia, but in Europe.  When I went back home I learned that Rossiyanka could be my fresh start, my second chance.  I took it!

601584_3912328226868_586494694_nTraining in the snow can be fun (Photo courtesy of Kristina Kokaeva)

When I first got here it was cold. It’s not like New Jersey, USA cold.  I mean cold! Five to 6 feet of snow and ice, windy, weather that makes you want to stay inside all day and not even think about playing in these types of conditions.  If I told you I wasn’t home sick at all I would be lying.  Practices were miserable, and I didn’t want to leave my apartment in which all I had was a computer.  After a while you don’t even want to open that anymore.  At least I had all the time in the world to watch as many soccer games that I wanted being the soccer junkie that I am.  Then I finally settled in, took a step back, remembered why I was here, and decided to look at the positives and enjoy this new experience.  After a while you get used to wearing four layers and bundling up.  I made a lot of new friends.  There were eight foreigners total, and we made a special bond.  We explored together, hung out together, and made some lasting memories on and off the field.

484267_434723859954215_184418518_nStarting lineup vs. Wolfsburg in the Champions League Quarterfinal (Photo courtesy of Mirko Kappes)

The soccer experience was great.  We didn’t have the best season, but it was a memorable one for me.  The quarterfinal CL match vs. Wolfsburg in Germany would be my first professional game back from my injury.  No pressure! You’re only on one of the biggest stages in club soccer.  The environment was even better than what I’ve see on TV.  The passion for the game on both sides was intense.  The atmosphere was incredible, and I was enjoying every moment.  Once the whistle blows in any match you forget the fans, the stage, the media all around you, and you are focused.  It was a battle.  Even though we lost both legs, getting us kicked out of the tournament, I was happy where I was.  Our season back in Russia was just beginning for me.  We went into the break at the top of the table, and we were determined to stay there.  Unfortunately we wound up coming in second, which still qualified us for champions league this upcoming season.  As a team, and as an individual, there were ups and downs, good times and bad, memories to remember and forget.

DSC00671One of the beautiful sites of Moscow:  Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Photo courtesy of Kristen Edmonds)

So why did I choose to come back to Russia? Good question.  It’s not your typical European country.  You cannot just walk around outside and go into little coffee shops and bakeries to hang out for a few hours on your iPad.  There isn’t beauty in every direction you look.  There are some streets you do not want to walk down, and in the winter you don’t want to even walk around outside at all. The toughest part is probably the language barrier.  Asking for directions, you can forget about it.  Although, there are parts that are spectacular and Moscow is one of those parts.  I’ve only been there three or four times, and from the little that I have seen, it is one of the most amazing cities I have ever been to.  The other thing that sold me was my team! So when I was asked to come back for this season it was an easy decision.  The weather here is nice now.  I can walk around outside with shorts and a t-shirt.  I can enjoy the parks, the small beautiful town I live in, team barbeques, fun adventures, and playing which is the best part.  I feel like we as a team have some unfinished business to handle.  We want to be the best team in Russia, and we have some proving to do.  You have to take a step back, enjoy the experience, accept the culture, and you will never have a dull moment.  That’s the thing about Russia; you never know what tomorrow will bring.  You just have to dive in.  For this four month season that’s what I am going to do. There aren’t always plans, and it’s an exciting way to live life while following your dream!

Kristen Edmonds is a midfielder/forward who is currently playing for Rossiyanka in the Russian League.  You can follow her on Twitter and on her blog.  

Dive in! Russia style.

A soccer junkie, a competitor, an underdog, and a hard worker with determination, attitude, skill, will

and passion describes me, and what it took for me to become a professional soccer player.  My name is

Kristen Edmonds and I am currently playing for WFC Rossiyanka in Russia.  It’s a dream come true to be

traveling the world while playing the sport I love.  A lot has happened on my road to making this dream

a reality.  After college I went to a tryout in the women’s professional league in the USA.  Going in with

no name, as an underdog, I didn’t show enough and get a chance to go to preseason.  So I moved up to

NY for the summer to play for the Quickstrike Lady Blues in the W-league.  The next season I tried again

and got the opportunity to go into preseason with NJ Sky Blue.  Unfortunately, I picked up an injury

and got cut right before the final roster was released. With the Lady Blues we won two regular season

championships. After that success, my professional career began.

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