With the growth of womens’ soccer worldwide, the idea that a young lady today could grow up to become a professional soccer player has become a legitimate possibility. Discover Soccer has been fortunate enough to speak with Bay Area Breeze player, Gina Woodward, who has been able fulfill that dream.
Discover Soccer: Tell us about your playing background.
Gina Woodward: My interest in soccer began at three, when I started to watch my older brother play. Since three was too young to start playing in my city’s recreational league, I began playing when I was five, and I made the jump to competitive club soccer at 8, playing in the girls under 11 age group.
From there I played on high level teams, and at 15 I started getting recruited by colleges. After visiting and talking to a few schools, I chose to go to UC Berkeley (Cal) and play for the Golden Bears.
My career at Cal was short lived due to a few serious injuries that forced me to medically retire since the time I needed to heal properly was uncertain, and it was uncertain if I could even play again.
Two years of recovery, rehabilitation, and hard training led me to an opportunity to try out at a Breeze practice, and the rest is history.
DS: What has playing in the W-League and more specifically playing for the Bay Area Breeze meant to you?
GW: First of all, playing for the Breeze is a dream come true for me.
I never thought I was going to play soccer again at a high level because of my injuries but after having the opportunity to try out and make the team, I am so thankful and ecstatic to be living a dream that I thought was taken away from me only a few years ago.
Now that we are in the W- League, I could not be more excited about the level of competition that we faced this year and will face in the years to come. After my first season in the W-League and experiencing the high level of the competition and players, it has brought about a whole new love for the game in me and a new level of drive to become a better player.
DS: What do you think the future holds for women’s soccer both professionally and in general?
GW: Given it stays on its current trajectory with the formation of new leagues and the ever-growing amazing support base, I think womens’ soccer in general and womens’ professional soccer has a very bright future.
As more and more people begin to see and appreciate what we do, we are going to gain more and more respect and support.
The work that is being put in now from not only current and past players, but also from those behinds the scenes such as with sites like Discover Soccer is building a sustainable foundation for those future womens’ soccer players to stand on and have even better results than we do now.
DS: As you know, Discover Soccer is geared toward soccer coaching and training… how do you train?
GW: I try to do something everyday. Lately, my training schedule has been rather intense, consisting of practicing with a high level U17 boys team twice a week, strength and weight training between 4-6 days a week, speed training 4-6 days a week, and technical training 4-7 days a week with a former Shamrock Rovers player.
DS: What’s your favorite drill or practice game?
GW: Although I love to play possession and scrimmage, one of my favorite games of all time is “Flying Changes.”
Click here to check out Gina’s favorite drill, “Flying Changes”.
DS: What’s your least favorite?
GW: My least favorite drills are any that are walk through types without a ball.
For instance drills that work on defensive shape, where the defense is moving and shifting based on where the coach points or moves a ball. The defenders aren’t touching the ball, but are moving in space – like shadow play. I understand its extremely important, but for a high energy person like myself, its tough to stay focused.
DS: When we spoke last, you mentioned that you are a winger. You were a defender until recently, were you not?
GW: Well I still am a defender. I have just been rotating back and forth based on the conditions of the game and my runs.
DS: What has that change meant to you?
GW: I love the change. I have fallen in love with getting forward and becoming part of the attack. I love making the runs up the field, sending crosses in, and making crashing runs behind the defense into the box.
Although the change has required me to be more fit, I couldn’t be happier with it.
DS: What adjustments have you had to make to your game as a result?
GW: From this not only have I realized that I need to be more fit, but also that I need to be more dynamic tactically with my runs, and I especially need to be more technical on the ball in terms of my touches, ability to beat players on the ball, and with my crosses in.
DS: Shameless plug – what do you think of Discover Soccer?
GW: I think it is a fantastic site that I am going to start using immediately for the teams that I train and coach. Everything that a coach AND player could need or want is literally right here.
I really appreciate the organization as well as the amount and quality of information available. It is a great learning tool not only for players but coaches as well.
Fantastic job putting this together! I as well as the soccer community thank you for this.
DS: What would you tell the young girls reading this out there hoping to be the next Bay Area Breeze star?
GW: I would tell them to never give up and keep working hard.
Sometimes your career presents you with set-backs but getting to the top is about how you get through them, learn from them, and get better from them.