Banes signs with Boston Breakers
With every young athlete comes the dream to one day play professionally. For Towson alumna Emily Banes, that dream quickly became a reality.
Banes left Towson as the first Tiger to earn a spot on the National Soccer Coaches of America Association (NSCAA)/Continental Tire Mid-Atlantic second team.
After playing her way to a record-setting 2014 season in which she scored 30 goals and 77 points, Banes will trade in her black-and-gold jersey for a blue-and-white one, as she was added to the roster of the reserve team for the Boston Breakers of the National Women’s Soccer League.
“It had been my dream since I was a little kid to play professional soccer and the fact that I am here is the most amazing thing,” she said. “It blows my mind everyday.”
The process to play professionally was a little different compared to what she was used to when being recruited to play in college. In order to play professionally, Banes had to put her name into a draft, but she also took it upon herself to reach out to the teams by sending them her soccer resume.
“I contacted eight out of nine teams in the league just to broaden my chances of getting an opportunity,” she said.
Banes was invited to six tryouts with Portland, New York, Boston, Kansas City, Chicago, and New Jersey.
Originally from New York, Banes made the trip to all three of the tryouts. Each tryout lasted two days and included two sessions a day.
“I was so nervous of course,” she said. “You initially have two sessions to show what you got and if you don’t perform or stick out then they send you home.”
Chicago and Portland required Banes to attend their preseason workouts, but Boston immediately offered her a spot on their reserve team.
During this time, Banes’ father, one of her biggest fans, traveled with her to each tryout. Once the forward chose the Breakers, her mother traveled with her to Boston to help her settle in with her host family.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better support system,” she said. “They have been amazing.”
While being a professional athlete can be a struggle trying to balance everyday life, Banes says she had already been through the ropes as a college athlete.
Now, her day-to-day schedule consists of practice every morning from 9:30 a.m until noon and then she coaches soccer clinics from 3:30 p.m until 6 p.m.
“It kind of sounds like a lot, but I am enjoying every second of it,” she said. “But believe me, I am exhausted at the end of the day.”
Since she is no longer a student-athlete, Banes has seen a tremendous difference playing professionally than plying for Towson.
“Playing with these players at this level is such a big step from college,” she said. “The speed of play is faster and the level of skills are higher. I feel like I have already grown as a player since I’ve been here.”
Banes even says that she loves the game of soccer even more than she did in college and being at the professional level has motivated her to improve.
“Everyone is all here for the same reason and it is solely for the love of the game,” she said. “Not saying that it’s not like that in college, but in college you have school and a social life to worry about, but here everyone’s number one priority is soccer. Everything else comes second.”
Banes’ advice to anyone looking to take that next step is to work hard and keep up your skills and fitness.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. If it is truly what you want to do, then go after it and give it all you have because you will get there. But it was because I believed in myself and never gave up, even when it got hard. Keep pushing, you will get there.”