Joanne Norell | March 8, 2017
Following the conclusion of the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup last December in Papua, New Guinea, Monica Flores graduated.
The rising University of Notre Dame women’s soccer senior and recent Mexico national program mainstay aged out of the U-20 program when she celebrated her birthday in January. But beyond graduating from the U-20s, Flores has matured in another way — with that sense of comfort and calm that comes with the undeniable feeling of belonging.
When she first joined the Mexico national program, the naturally soft-spoken defender felt more than a bit of trepidation. A native of Livingston, New Jersey, Flores would be entering the unknown with a new team, new language, new culture — not to mention separation from twin, Sabrina, who was playing with the U.S. system — and fear was her natural response.
“Joining the U-20s was the scariest thing in the world for me,” Flores said. “I didn’t know what to expect and being on my own from Sabrina was weird. Then being with the full team was a very humbling and crazy experience, being away from everything that I knew but in an even more mature environment where all of those things are multiplied because you’re with adults. But I think being put into that environment and being surrounded by those girls made me realize they’re just playing the same game I am and all you need is to connect with them on that level.”
After more than a year of entrenchment with not only the U-20 program, but with the full Mexico Women’s National Team, as well, Flores feels more confident than ever. It’s a confidence born not only of familiarity, but also of success.