Sofia Decerb Commits to JMU


“The love of playing pushes me forward,” says junior soccer goalie, Sofia Decerb. “When I came up to play in high school, I was so scared. I came up my freshman year and I actually got some of my best highlight clips from that year. [When looking forward] you still have that anxiety for the unknown.”
Sofia explained that a big worry for her when looking into her college future was playing against much older and experienced players, but she realized that she had already overcome that fear once before when entering high school where she gained a lot out of her perseverance.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was three. My grandfather is one hundred percent the reason I got into it. There was actually a point in my sixth grade year where I wanted to quit so badly. I hated it. It was actually right when I became a goalie. My grandfather convinced me to keep playing. My family would say, ‘You’ve already put so much into it’ so I just kept doing it [until I loved it], and now I’ll be playing in college,” said Decerb. “[My grandfather] was definitely one of my biggest supporters, he even started coaching and helping out with the high school girl’s team because he wanted to support me.”
“My little sister Lola also travels everywhere with me. She’s always there to give me a hug after every game. My entire family has always been there to support me.”
Sofia explained, it was still so much more than her family. “I feel like it’s kind of like a community of people [I have to support me] between all the teams I’ve been on and I would still consider myself best friends with almost all of them,” she said.
Soccer was there for her when she needed it most. “Before my grandmother passed, my family was constantly visiting the hospital, so the only time I was able to feel happiness [within those dark times] was going to practices with my friends and enjoying that. Shortly after her passing, my mom and dad both got diagnosed with cancer and it was the same thing, I had all these friends that were there for me that I met through the sport and I don’t even know how I would have gotten through that without soccer and my friends.” Sofia was grateful to have that support system when making her college decision.

Making Tough Decisions…

“When I first started the recruiting process I was all over the place because I didn’t know where I was at. I just knew I wanted to play in college. I really want to go somewhere where I know I will be pushed. Going to JMU is going to be tough, but I want that push to get better, so that also went into my decision. It motivates me,” said Decerb. Playing at a division one school is a challenging task, but Sofia is ready to take it on.
Sofia contributes a lot of her goals and successes to her coaches; Garret Watson and Zak Kruger. She said, “My club goalie coaches are both the soccer coaches for Seton Hill University, so I had them to guide me through this entire process. They helped put me at the level I should be looking at, and where I deserved to go. They were so eager and probably more excited than me when I committed, they were just so happy that I accomplished what I have been working for.”
“Both my coaches were goalkeepers in colleges, and I would consider them my role models, just what they’ve done with their careers. They both came from small towns and played D2 and they played a lot at their schools and did great things. Now they’re doing what they love for the rest of their lives,” said Decerb.

The process…

“It was really overwhelming at first. The constant phone calls, scheduling them and having them, I was terrified to even talk to them, but once I got used to it, [I realized] its honestly really cool and surreal that you’re talking to these high level coaches that have been coaching big time schools (whether they’re still at a big school or they moved to a smaller school) that have these insane careers, and you just get to talk with them.” Sofia explained the process was very stressful.
She said, “I was stressed the entire time. Some of my friends had even committed before me and I had put pressure on myself. I was like ‘okay how did they make this decision’. And until I got to the point where I made [that decision] I was stressed out the entire time. I can’t really describe it, but now looking into that perspective, I shouldn’t have been because there are seniors [that still haven’t committed to a school yet]. I can’t even imagine how stressed they must be as seniors, if I’m a junior feeling that way in my position. It was just a lot, making a decision this early about my future. I’m sixteen making a decision as to where I’ll go when I’m eighteen.”
“June 15 going into your junior year is when you can start to reach out to college coaches and after that, you can commit or do whatever you need to. I think it was October when I got my first offer from Robert Morris University. And I just kind of waited it out because I had this whole process going on with James Madison University. So as soon as I got their offer, I knew it was where I wanted to be, so I accepted it. It was so nice. I went down for a few different visits and just the environment down there, like everyone down there is so nice. I just really fell in love with it.”
After her acceptance of JMU’s offer, Sofia explained that a weight was lifted off her shoulders. She was able to focus once more on her love of the sport rather than the stressors of making such an important decision about her future. She said, “Now all I have to worry about is preparing for that high level school atmosphere. They’ve talked to my coaches about what they want me to work on so I can fit into their play, but it is so much more relieving [that i have already made that decision]. I feel like a whole different person now, I’m so relieved.”
“It’s been such a long ride, looking back I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m only sixteen and I’ve traveled half of the United States for this sport and made so many best friends. It’s been amazing and I’m so excited to continue it.”