Ask yourself: Who inspires you? How old are they? What makes them a good role model?
Just like girls, role models come in all shapes and sizes. No matter who you are, where you’re from or what sport you play, every girl has the power to build up another. We challenge every girl to use the skills you learn as a teammate to not only inspire the players around you, but to motivate every girl in your life to achieve her full potential. ‘Girls supporting girls’ is a concept that exists across all cultures and abilities and has no limits.
Each week, we'll share a few examples of young athletes that model confidence, pride and determination in their lives.
Let’s go girls!
Aubrey McLinn, 12
What is your earliest memory of soccer?
My earliest memory of being on the pitch is playing for a YMCA team and wanting to name the team Butterfly Rainbow (I know it probably would have made more sense if I said Rainbow Butterfly). I was the kid on the team that loved playing the most when the soccer field was the muddiest. To this day my favorite soccer look is mud and grass stains all over my uniform and face. It’s my warrior paint.
What is the story behind your nickname, Aubrey “The Wall” McLin?
I was given this nickname by one of my first competitive soccer team’s coaches because I was like a brick wall as a keeper and didn’t let anything get past me. Today, I still try to not let much get past me. But I also have a team of doctors who call me this for other reasons. Mainly because of how strong I’ve been over the years. A brick wall, tough and still standing despite some stormy weather. There have been a lot of different painful tests they have had to run that most adults don’t tolerate well. I’ve had to do quite a few of them without parents present as well. Most people with my condition also rarely can be very physically active, let alone play competitive sports. I definitely wear this nickname as a badge of honor.
Aubrey was diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) Dysautonomia at the age of 6 and has been an activist for others with Dysautonomia since she was 7.
Who/what is your greatest inspiration?
That’s a tough question because I have a few individuals that have inspired me and my current aspirations. I would definitely start with an amazing award winning runner with MS ( Multiple Sclerosis), Kayla Montgomery. I watched a TedTalk she did when I was 6 and remembered how she helped me put things into perspective. I could either live my life feeling miserable and scared all the time or take this as an opportunity to do something different and great.
As Jim Roth said, “let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.”
I was not about to let a label and a diagnosis define who I was and wanted to be. My endgame is to be on the Women's National Soccer Team and before I head there, attend Stanford University, no longer as a patient but as a student-athlete.
I also find inspiration from two other amazing role models I have in my life, Brandi Chastain and Tracy Ducar-Noonan (keeper on the 96-99 US Women’s team). I am penpals with both women who have given me words of encouragement and great advice over the years.
What is something about yourself that you’re proud of, and that you use as a way to set a positive example for others? (i.e. what is your superpower?)
I would have to say my ability to take a negative outcome or challenging situation and turn this into something positive and meaningful.
Can you tell me about a time that you’ve used that superpower to build up the girls around you, on or off the field?
As a keeper it’s my role to keep my teams energy and spirits high even during a tough game or practice. Sports and well life in general, as they say, is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. When I’m not on the pitch I’m usually working on a leadership or volunteer project that helps others in need or dealing with tough situations. I am also a youth ambassador for an international nonprofit organization that helps raise funds and awareness for dysautonomia.
There is always room for more kindness in the world.
Tell me about a teammate that has helped strengthen you to the person you are today. Are they older or younger than you? What is it about them that inspires you?
My cousin or should I say twousin, Jordan. She and I share the same exact birthday (3/15/08). We are only 18 hours apart and we have been on the same teams for the past six years. She inspires me on a daily basis with her strong worth ethic, competitive edge, and we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. When I’ve had difficult practices or games symptom management-wise, Jordan will help sneak me a salty treat from my bag or ask if she can do anything. She knows I don’t want others to think I can’t handle playing a sport. I definitely can but it isn’t always easy. Jordan understands that there’s a large number of people who don’t know a lot about my condition so tend to come up with their own conclusions or ideas about me and my condition.
What is a quote or a word that keeps you motivated?
“Mind over Matter,” is my daily motivation and what works for me. My mom even tattooed this on her wrist and during difficult times I’ll point to her arm and she holds her wrist up showing me these words. It’s our little way of communicating, you got this kid.
I am also lucky to have quite a few coaches and trainers who have put so much time, dedication, and energy into helping me develop as a person and athlete. Coaches who knew I had a special condition but didn’t go easy on me. I love challenges and I absolutely love soccer! Every practice, game, tournament, touch on the pitch is an opportunity to continue to do what I love.
To learn more about Aubrey and her experience as an athlete with Dysautonomia, visit her website.
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