From Chatfield to West St. Paul to Des Moines: travel is no stranger for local soccer player
Traveling far distances for soccer games isn’t too uncommon.
Whether fans head to the Twin Cities for a Minnesota United game or globally to follow the World Cup up close, there are many places people will go for the “Beautiful Game.”
However, Meghan Brown, of Chatfield, travels 100 miles, each way, between five to seven days per week to play.
Brown — who started playing when she was 5 years old — has been playing for soccer clubs up in the Twin Cities since the seventh grade to help chase her dream of playing Division I college soccer.
Despite any challenges that distance brought, she said it was what she felt was necessary for her future.
“If you really love the game, there are some sacrifices to make,” Brown said. “But if you have support to do it, go for it.”
Now a rising senior and Drake University commit, the 17-year-old soccer player crafted a way to balance the commute, commitment and classes.
Enjoying the ride
Living an hour-and-a-half away, she was missing a lot of school while playing for Minnesota Thunder Academy in the seventh grade.
When her brick-and-mortar school and classes no longer could accommodate, her family looked for other options.
That’s when Minnesota Virtual Academy entered the daily roster.
Brown wakes up around 8 a.m. and begins her school day. Whether she logs on to watch lectures, complete homework or work with teachers via video chat, she said she’s able to be flexible academically.
By 2 p.m., Meghan and her mom, Heidi, are off toward the Cities.
If they are lucky, they’ll be back to their Chatfield home by 9 p.m., but it can be closer to 10:30 or 11 on any given day.
“It is what it is,” Brown said. “It’s only for a finite amount of time, and then she’s off to college.”
Especially since Meghan is the youngest of three, Brown said they’ve had more ability to accommodate.
“I’m just enjoying the ride that we’re on,” she said. “I know not every family can do this with the sacrifice, but we are helping our girl chase her dreams.”
Dreams of Drake
Playing as a forward for as long as she can remember, she knows she’s always loved scoring the goals and playing the game.
A co-captain of her Eclipse club soccer team based out of West St. Paul, she lives the furthest away; many of her teammates come from cities in the metro area such as Woodbury, St. Paul, White Bear Lake and Eden Prairie.
“When I said I was from Rochester, people were surprised I was really driving from that far away,” Meghan said.
When they asked if she was going to make all the games and practices, she said she was “all in.”
“I told them I’m flexible with schooling and my schedule so I can come and practice,” Meghan said. “I’ll be there 100 percent.”
That commitment showed not only within her team, but on the scoreboard as well.
Just this year, their team is ranked 83rd in the country. Their record is 23-8-2, they’ve won three tournaments, placed in two others and are the second-best team for their age group in the state.
That past success can now translate to the future at college; she verbally committed to play for Drake in Des Moines, Iowa in March. She is planning to study health sciences.
Reflecting back, Meghan doesn’t regret the choices to commute close to 200 miles a day multiple times a week, enroll in an online school and fully commit to the sport she loves.
“It’s my life, and I wasn’t pushed upon this,”she said. “It was my choice, my decision and it was a great fit for me – It’s what I really love and want to do.”
While at Drake, some of the routine she’s come to know will change, but she’s not worried because some things will stay the same: she’ll still put her right sock and right shin guard on first to start on the “right” foot; she’ll keep the purple ribbon that she’s had since her practice in her hair; she’ll still be playing the game she loves.
“The ups and the downs, they’ve all got me to this point of being committed to a Division 1 school,” Meghan said. “The downs taught me lessons, but they made me appreciate the ups I’ve had. I’m so grateful for everything.”