Centre College is known as a national leader in international education, and in keeping with this focus, the women’s soccer team is traveling the world this summer to engage in challenging matches with global opponents. Coach Jay Hoffman recently led the Division III national women’s team to Brazil and will soon take Centre’s team on a trip to Ireland.
The national team, coached by Hoffman, was comprised of the best D-3 soccer players from across the nation including Centre’s own Victoria Dillard ’17. The group met in Orlando, Fla., to practice prior to flying to Brazil.
The first stop of the national team’s Brazilian tour was Jundiaí, part of the state of São Paulo, where they competed in three matches against local teams. The women’s team beat the Paulistia Clube’s and the city of Varzea’s teams, and also played the Valinhos (City of Little Valleys) team, who had special Brazil/U.S.A. flag shirts made to celebrate the occasion.
For Dillard, some of her “favorite memories” of the trip stem from moments of generosity like this amongst the teams.
“We would swap jerseys with them after the games, which was really neat,” she says. “They were so friendly and eager to take pictures and talk to us.
“This was my first time ever going out of the country, and it was a great experience,” she continues. “The trip definitely made me want to study abroad and possibly travel after Centre.”
The team then stopped in São José dos Campos before heading to Rio de Janiero, home of the 2016 Summer Olympics. They visited the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain and toured the famous Clube Regattas Flamengo, which will be the host site for all Team U.S.A. Olympic teams.
Hoffman’s favorite memory of the trip, however, is not of any of these remarkable sights but of a pick-up soccer game his team played with children in a park.
“The players had a blast, and the children loved having us there,” he says. “We did not speak the same language, but the game of soccer united us all. Afterwards, our players gave them jerseys, t-shirts and gear as a way to say thanks.”
After nearly 10 days in Brazil, the national D-3 team returned home with a 2-2 record and memories to last a lifetime.
“Having the opportunity to play for the D-3 National Team overseas is a wonderful experience,” Hoffman says. “I hope the team was able to better understand the Brazilian culture and how important the game of soccer is to them.”
Hoffman and Centre’s women’s team will travel next to Ireland where they will spend eight days exploring the Irish countryside. They play four games against local teams, including the Northern Ireland Youth National Team in Danville’s sister city of Carrickfergus.
by Hayley Hoffman ’16
June 29, 2015