It’s Thursday, July 23, and SPORTS. ARE. BACK.
...except that it’s been back. For some time now, in fact. The NWSL restarted their league back at the end of June as the first professional league in the US to be back in business. That’s why we’re so excited that this week’s Throwback Thursday features 2020 Virginia Soccer alumna Courtney Petersen, who was drafted earlier this year by the Orlando Pride.
Because Pride had five positive COVID-19 cases, they withdrew from the NWSL’s Challenge Cup, where Courtney was expected to make her professional debut. So we’ll have to keep waiting before we see her back on the pitch, but in the meantime, it was great to catch up with the United Soccer coaches All-Region First Team, Top Drawer Soccer Best XI Second Team; and All-ACC Second Team selection.
Streaking the Lawn: It’s technically only been a couple months since graduating UVA, but I’m sure it’s felt like an eternity already. How has the initial transition away from Grounds been?
Courtney Petersen: It really has felt like an eternity already being away from UVA. While it has been a weird experience, it always has been an exciting transition away from Grounds. Weird being away from an environment I’ve called home for the past five years, but exciting in terms of starting a new chapter in my life. Starting to form a sense of home in Orlando has been so much fun. Learning the area, the way of life, and the change in soccer has been really exciting.
STL: It must have been disappointing for Orlando to withdraw from the Challenge Cup where you would have made your professional debut. Overall though, as a player, how have you felt about the NWSL’s safety precautions?
CP: It definitely was disappointing to not be able to play in the Challenge Cup, but for the safety of others it was the right decision by the club. The safety precautions were amazing throughout our process of getting back to training. I felt safe in the environment, and although it was a change at first, it became the new normal really quickly. Everyone was just really excited to play, and the NWSL had safety precautions in place that allowed us to do just that.
STL: How has training with your new club been going? How has it been reuniting and training with former UVA teammates?
CP: It’s been going great. At first I was nervous, but I just needed to get my feet wet in that environment. After a few training sessions I felt my confidence grow and it continued to grow each training. It’s always a great opportunity to play with such amazing players, so being able to play with them everyday has been great. It also did help to have familiar faces around during the transition process. Being able to have them to talk to and lean on helped me so much.
STL: If you could have been an athlete in another sport at Virginia, which would you choose, and would you be a starter?
CP: If I could choose another sport at UVA I think I would choose lacrosse. It’s similar to soccer with the footwork. I would just have to learn the rules with the stick, but I think I could have been a starter because I would consider myself a fast learner and to be pretty athletic. Although, it would be interesting to see me run with a stick in my hand and not drop the ball hahah
STL: What is your favorite UVA sports memory, either as a fan or a player?
CP: My favorite memory was when basketball won the national championship. That will be a day that I never forget. To see our community come together to celebrate them was amazing.
STL: Which coach or professor had the greatest impact on you while at UVA?
CP: My head coach Steve Swanson had the greatest impact on me. He pushed me to be my best self on and off the field and always held me to a high standard. That allowed me to always reach for more and to never settle for anything.
STL: Do you have any career advice for current students or recent alumni?
CP: My biggest advice would be to always believe in yourself because it doesn’t matter who believes in you if you don’t believe in yourself. If you have self belief and self confidence, no one can get in your way, and the sky becomes the limit.
STL: What do you see that current UVA student-athletes have on Grounds that you wish you had? (facilities, resources, coach, etc.)
CP: I really wouldn’t wish for anything different. I think I had amazing facilities, resources, and staff that allowed me to be the player and person I am today.
STL: What is your favorite Charlottesville restaurant?
CP: This is a hard one to be completely honest, but I’m going to have to go with Roots. I have been craving a Roots bowl since I’ve left Grounds. It’s also a healthy choice, so you never can go wrong with a good Roots bowl.
STL: Bonus question from our TBT alumnus from last week, Lauren Coughlin: Did you see a horse at Foxfield?
CP: I actually have never been to Foxfield, but I don’t think any of my friends that went saw a horse hahaha