To most people the word jock implies the usual clichéd visual, one compounded by years of stereotypical portrayals from pop culture movies. Thankfully Aimee Cho and Stephanie Tran, with their new digital platform, are proving that this doesn’t have to be the case. Jock (In their own words) is a modern love and exploration of fitness, sport, and athleticism, and, in appreciation of this incredible publication we would like to share an extract from the Florencia Galarza profile.
Photography by James Ryang
Experiencing a sports injury, for some, is like going through a trial separation with the one you love. The sense of loss, then denial, then sadness, anger, confusion, and withdrawal. They all come. Often, because of circumstances outside of our control, we have no choice but to throw in the towel. But what we don’t realize at the time is that sometimes it’s not always forever. Of course, what feels like forever is just time. That time can be can be months, and for others it might be years. For Florencia Galarza it was 10. 10 years. Dreams of becoming a pro-soccer player were crushed by injury and Florencia walked away from the very thing, that dream, that defined so much of her young life. But, as we all know, time heals wounds, and after all those years, she’s found herself back on the pitch where she belongs. Not to say those years in between have been wasted. As you read further, you’ll find she’s kept herself busy – learning, moving, growing – even while nursing her heartache. And it’s that kind of person who always ends up on top. At least in our books. Dreaming might be free, but patience – 10 years of it – can be very rewarding. Something we can all learn from Florencia and the beautiful, but sometimes painful, game.
On the Beautiful game:
I have been playing sports for as long as I can remember. I am a natural athlete, so I excelled at many of them. I played tennis during my younger years and loved it and I think had I pursued it, I would probably have played at a very high level. But I preferred to play sports that required shared goals and teamwork so I moved away from tennis and into soccer.
I started playing soccer when I was 7 years old. My older cousin would stick me in the goal and take rocket shots at me. It was totally fun and I fell in love with the game. And as my love for soccer progressed, so did my skills. Shortly after, I joined my first team, the West Kendall Optimist Soccer Club, where I played until I was 11. And then from 11 to 13, I joined Miami Strike Force, one of the top clubs in Florida. People started to take notice of my talents and I became recognized as one of the top soccer players in South Florida. I continued to play soccer in high school and made the Florida Select team for the following four years. At 14, I played for top, nationally ranked clubs like Miami Premier, a team that participated in elite showcase tournaments like Texas Shootout, Raleigh Shootout, WAGS (We are Girls Soccer) and Surf Cup, and one summer, when I was 16 years old, I guest played for So Cal United. While in my sophomore year of high school, my soccer team made it to the Florida State finals. I played starting center midfielder all 4 years on varsity and was chosen for the All Dade High School Teams. And it was during this time that I also trained with the Florida ODP (Olympic Development Program) team, and was selected for Regionals and U.S. National U16 Pool tryouts. That experience – actually all of it – was pretty awesome to say the least.
But then, when I was 17 years old, during prime college recruitment and scholarship season, I had a soul and career crushing injury. It happened when I was practicing with my team and one of my teammates slide tackled into me. My right ankle was destroyed and I had to immediately stop playing soccer. I missed the rest of the senior year games and was not able to travel with my club team to any of the elite national tournaments. Because of that, scholarship offers from my top college picks had dried up. I was devastated. Destroyed. The heartache was just so extreme that I hung up my cleats and deleted soccer from my life.
After, when I wasn’t playing, I would always dream that I was. There were so many times that I would breakdown and cry at home when I would think about soccer – when you’re a true, born athlete, it’s in your heart. It can be very emotional, and it was and still is for me. But slowly, I started letting soccer back into my life. I began by watching it, getting myself really psyched up over the World Cups, and then, when I was given the opportunity to start a team for the Downtown Soccer League, Bowery Premier, I did.
It took me 10 years to really get back on the pitch. I bought a pair of cleats and then, for the first time since high school, I hit the field in March 2014. Since then, I’ve been so happy and so thankful to be able to play again. And the fact that it’s with and against such great people makes it all the better.