It’s a moment that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
I had always wanted to represent my country at an international soccer tournament, and it was finally coming true.
There I was, wearing the same soccer jersey I’d seen my heroes in so many times before.
As my teammates and I walked onto the field at a U-17 international tournament in China, my heart started to beat faster and faster.
When our national anthem, O Canada, played, I was just covered in chills.
I almost had to pinch myself because I couldn’t believe that all the hours of work I put in to get there were finally becoming real.
It was the most ready I’d ever been for an opening whistle.
No doubt about it – I was right where I wanted to be.
As I’ve learned since, there’s only so much you can control in your own life.
In addition to that tournament, I was part of our Canadian U-17 team throughout the World Cup qualifiers. When we qualified for the U-17 World Cup, I started envisioning myself packing my bags and being on the team at the tournament.
I waited and waited for the call that I’d been picked for the tournament team, but it never came.
I was crushed.
It was such a tough moment for me because I wanted it so bad, and I had convinced myself that it was going to happen.
This was also one of the first times I’d ever missed out on being nominated for a team, so I eventually had to learn that there are things out of my control, and I just have to focus on getting better instead.
Since then, I’ve realized there will always be ups and downs in soccer. It’s how you respond to these moments that will determine whether you’re successful in the future.
I was definitely dedicated to soccer before that, but my effort has only increased since.
Whether it was my mental focus or technical skills on the ball, everything I did was in hopes of making it back to that point for the national team.
And I did.
I’m proud to say I’ve been a major part of the U-20 team that just wrapped up our world cup qualifying campaign in March. When we beat Puerto Rico in the third-place game to secure our spot at the U-20 World Cup this summer in Costa Rica, I honestly couldn’t believe what we had accomplished.
I’ve really been a part of this journey, and I’m ready to see it to the finish line.
While I won’t know for sure if I make the roster until our team camp in June, I’m prepared either way.
After all, I know how much I’ve grown since that disappointment four years ago.
As I picture what I can do for Canada on the international stage, I’m pretty far away from my hometown of Quebec City.
My love for soccer has taken me to a lot of different places, but it all started at home.
My earliest memories of soccer are watching my older brother play as my dad coached him, so it’s always been a family experience.
I’d follow them to practice and mess around on the sidelines, so it’s funny that they’re the ones on the sideline at my games now!
As I grew up, I turned into a pretty good defender, and my family always gave its support to my career.
The tough thing was that the best opportunities for my playing career often took me away from my family.
When I was 12 years old, I moved from Quebec to Montreal to play youth soccer, and I even spent a year in Lyon, France, living by myself without my family.
Growing up, I had never really thought about college sports in the US. Some of my older teammates talked about their plans to play college soccer, and I began to think of it being a possibility for me, too.
For my family, finding a way to combine school with my playing career has always been the most important thing.
So, as you can imagine, we were all ecstatic when I had found that balance here at SMU.
Coach Mat Cosgriff came to a tournament I was playing in and invited me to take a visit.
SMU was actually my first visit, and honestly, it clicked instantly – the facilities were amazing, the campus was stunning, and I loved everything about it.
I took a few other visits, but my mind was already made up – this was where I belonged.
I won’t lie, there was kind of a language barrier when I first got here to Texas.
I’ve always spoken French as my first language and, well, you Texans tend to sound a little different than I heard in Canadian English.
But, just like I’ve worked hard to be a part of the national team, I’ve put that same energy into being the best SMU Mustang I can be.
Whether I play for Canada or SMU, my mindset and my intensity have to be 100%.
On the international stage, it even hits me right in the heart sometimes as you represent your whole country.
If my dreams come true and I make the U-20 World Cup team, the tough thing is that I might miss a game or two with my SMU teammates.
But just like they call out to me when I’m on the field with them, I can always count on their support no matter where I am.
And that’s why I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this community here at SMU.