Seattle Sounders Women Feature -- www.sounderswomen.com
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
TUKWILA, Wash. – Traveling 4,800 miles from the heart of Bristol, England to the evergreens of Seattle, defender Rachel Pitman has found a temporary home away from home with the Seattle Sounders Women.
“I love playing for the Sounders,” Pitman said. “I was really nervous about coming because I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t know what the level was like. I just put pressure on myself every game and make sure I am doing the best that I can be doing.”
At an early age of five, Pitman began playing soccer in England with a local girls team, which is uncommon for the area that Pitman grew up in. A majority of Pitman’s friends played on a boy’s team, due to the lack of young girls wanting to play.
Continuing her love and passion for soccer, Pitman became engulfed in her academy team, and eventually moved to London to play for a prestigious Ladies Arsenal Club team. With Arsenal she mixed studying and training throughout her adolescence. Pitman helped lead Arsenal to league and cup titles.
After Arsenal, Pitman made the decision to attend a university in England. She had her courses, housing and everything ready to roll only to make a last minute decision to make America her new home.
“I completely changed my mind and my mom was like ‘what is going on?’ ” Pitman said.
Pitman’s decision to attend DePaul University in Chicago was grounded by two outside factors. Pitman’s coach from Arsenal was a friend with the DePaul coach, and one of Pitman’s best friends who played for Arsenal went to DePaul a year earlier.
Pitman, 22, is now going into her senior year at DePaul and is determined to be an all-star on the field. She usually goes back to England for the summer, but all of the teams stoped playing, making it hard for her to train.
“I usually come in for preseason and the coaches are always like ‘you’re not fit enough’, so I decided to stay out for the summer,” Pitman said. “I sacrificed going home to England and I wanted to play in the W-League.”
Unsure of how to go about playing in the W-League, Pitman contacted quite a few teams. Fortunately, head coach Hubert Busby Jr. had already observed Pitman and made initial contact with her coach at DePaul. Eager to make a decision, Pitman looked into Seattle and became very interested. After being here in Washington for about a month now, Pitman feels she made the right choice.
Making the move from Chicago to Seattle was easy for Pitman because of the resemblances between her childhood and host family. Pitman grew up with four kids and was always on the go to an athletic practice.
“I’m like, wow, this just reminds me of growing up. We were always there doing stuff, always together,” Pitman said. “That’s what really made me feel at home here — it felt a little bit like home.”
Due to NCAA rules, Pitman was unable to play in the first three games of the season because of the restrictions to leave DePaul early (can’t miss class early to finish spring semester). Thus far, she has played in four games, totaling one goal, three shots and 360 playing minutes.
“I feel like I have really had some of my best games here and that’s what you need going into your season,” Pitman said.
When asked if she prefers playing for the Sounders or DePaul, Pitman said it’s two totally different things. The major difference is that you aren’t going to find a college team like the Sounders since the girls are handpicked.
“I like both,” Pitman said. “I am loving my time playing here and just the vision of the girls. It’s small things, like they already know what they’re going to do with the ball before you give it to them. You don’t necessarily find that with all women’s soccer players around the country, so that’s what I like here.”
Pitman says the Sounders girls are great. She enjoys that everyone looks out and demands more of each other.
“Everyone is at such a high level and sometimes at college you’ve got people that aren’t as good, people that are really good, and it’s hard to find that middle factor, “Pitman said. “Whereas here, the bar is set high.”
Up until Pitman’s sophomore year at DePaul, she was a forward. DePaul lacked a full back, so Pitman volunteered. Pitman’s new position required her to play half forward and half defender, but she had a hard time switching her mentality from forward to defender and visa versa.
“I told my coaches to pick a position and I’ll be happy with whatever,” Pitman said. “We ended up picking a full back for me and now I feel like I’m pretty set there. That is going to be my position forever.”
Pitman said she could never be a center back because she couldn’t go forward. She appreciates the freedom that Hubert Busby Jr. allows and enjoys the fact that he loves his players to play a wing back position.
“I really like him as a coach because he doesn’t have any restrictions on what you can do,” Pitman said. “He says if you can get back, go for it.”
This motto is especially beneficial to the team — partly because of the fantastic crosses that Pitman is capable of as she launched direct balls into the box. Pitman loves using her forward knowledge, and applying it to benefit the team.
Pitman’s favorite part about soccer is the team atmosphere. She likes how everyone works for each other and the feeling after a great win.
“I’m just learning that everyone is beneficial to your knowledge— your teammates, your coaches, and everyone else— it’s so great to be a part of,” Pitman said. “It’s nice to know if you miss a ball your teammates are behind you to back you up and sort it out.”
Pitman is visa expires after she graduates from DePaul, leaving her future plans up in the air.
“I still want to play soccer, but I would love to live in America,” Pitman said.
Pitman’s words of advice to youth soccer players is to practice, practice and more practice.
“You can already have the talent, but if you don’t work hard you won’t get anywhere,” Pitman said. “Unless you are practicing, you are never going to reach your full potential. If you think you are perfect at something, you probably aren’t, just keep working at it.”
Aside from playing soccer, Pitman’s hobbies include going to concerts, hanging out with friends, trying new restaurants and listening to Beyoncé, “because who doesn’t love her?” Pitman said.
Next on the schedule for the Sounders Women is a home game against the LA Blues at 7:30 p.m. on July 3 at Starfire Stadium. The last home match will be against Bay Area Breeze at 4 p.m. on July 6 at Starfire Stadium. For tickets and details, see SoundersWomen.com.