Marlins of Mercy: Maya Goudeseune


Junior Maya Goudeseune has been balancing her competitive soccer and challenging academics from a very young age. Photo by Clare Jones

“I started playing soccer when I was very young, I think I was around the age of 6. It started out being something to do and for me to become active and get out of the house. [Before soccer], I tried a couple other sports like gymnastics and softball, but when I started soccer I literally fell in love with it. When I was younger, I used to practice outside regular soccer practice because it was really, really fun for me. 

I was at the Jaguars [a travel club soccer team] for about nine years. When the team had an age group change, I decided to change clubs to a more high level one that would help me get into a better college. That happened when I was in eighth grade. This is when soccer really began to take off for me and I started to become a lot more successful. When I first switched clubs, I struggled a lot because their technical ability was a lot different from my old team. I came from being the best one on a team to not being the best anymore. That was a challenge for me and made me work a lot harder to catch up to everybody else, [since] they had learned all of these skills when they were 8 years old and I was learning them at 13. Eventually, I caught on. I also knew no one. [Since then] switching clubs has probably been one of my greatest decisions because of the opportunities I have been presented with at the Hawks. 

I started talking to my first college when I was [maybe] 13. I started thinking I wanted to go south or to a really good academic school. I went through the process from when I was 14 to 16 of talking to every single coach I could and making a pros and cons list of things I wanted in college. My list narrowed down to [The University of] Pennsylvania and [The University of ] Kentucky. I really could not decide for about a month between the two schools. And then one day I woke up and decided I just wanted to go to Kentucky over Penn because I thought it would be a great fit academically and financially since Ivy League [Schools] can not give money for athletics. 

I knew I wanted to go to Kentucky for about a month. After that, I had to do the hard thing of calling up all of the schools I had talked to earlier and telling them I didn’t want to go to their school anymore. It’s somewhat like you’re breaking up with someone, it’s hard. [Some of the schools], I’d been talking to them since I was 14.

Since eighth grade, my entire life has been school, soccer, and family. I train six days a week. Sometimes I train for four hours or sometimes just two depending on the day. I travel almost every weekend. 

I have missed a lot of school because of it. Last year I missed a week of school because I was in Europe for soccer. It has really been a challenge learning how to handle both Mercy and Soccer because [Mercy] is so academically challenging. Thankfully, a lot of my teachers are accommodating with it and understand. There is no room in my schedule for anything else, but I don’t want there to be room for anything else. I am content with just having school, soccer, and home. I made a commitment and I’m happy with it. As a result, I have missed out on other things, like not playing a Mercy sport. 

[Through soccer], I have been blessed to go to a lot of different places. It’s really cool being able to travel with your best friends. Through Adidas, I was able to go to Amsterdam and Germany. Through this Adidas program I was able to train with other people from different places [who all play soccer]. It was really cool to experience [different] cultures while doing something I love.

My favorite memory of soccer is having Adidas sponsor my team and play a game on ESPN. We also got a really cool gear to play with. It was televised and was centered around women breaking barriers in sports and in the world. I was playing for a cause of women’s empowerment.”