Practicing patience, Sophia Chilczuk is good with that

Photo courtesy of Andrew Towell

A ball in front of her. A pass to a teammate. A shot at the net.

For Sophia Chilczuk, all of this means she is finally back on the soccer field.

“I so badly wanted to feel the ball on my foot. I missed the feeling of soccer,” said the Seattle Pacific senior star forward. “I’m very excited to get back to it.”

In mid-September, Chilczuk (pronounced CHILLzick) did indeed “get back to it” with her Falcon teammates. It was a scaled-down workout session, with pods of just five players on Wallace Field.

But the air was finally clean again, after smoke from California and Oregon fires had engulfed the Seattle region for days. Soccer balls were on the
turf, and, for a while at least, the coronavirus pandemic, which halted competition and practice for Chilczuk and all other SPU athletes since March, wasn’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

“I’ve had so much time to think about life and things that [the time] has actually been beneficial to me.”
– Sophia Chilczuk

“I think this will be a good time for all of us to just practice and focus on soccer without having games,” said Chilczuk. “Next year, we can just be a stronger team.

“I’ve had so much time to think about life and things that [the time] has actually been beneficial to me.”

Having lots of time to think about things is not unfamiliar to Chilczuk.

In October 2018, near the end of her sophomore season, she collided with an opposing goalkeeper in a game at Concordia-Portland and sustained two broken bones in her lower right leg. Surgeons repaired it by inserting a rod with screws toward her knee and in her ankle.

By the start of her junior season in 2019, Chilczuk had put in months of rehabilitation work and was back in action. She started all 20 games, contributing eight goals and three assists.

SPU head coach Arby Busey has seen that work ethic in Chilczuk for a long time.

“I think there’s almost an elegance about the way she plays,” he said. “She gives an appearance where it just seems easier for her to do things than other players. But she has worked really hard to make it that way.”

During the pandemic shutdown, Chilczuk ran between two and four miles every day, worked out on her mom’s Peloton stationary bike, and lifted weights. Chilczuk is a hiking enthusiast, so she took to the mountains and trails when she could.

“It has been crazy. It’s tough for everyone, and it has been tough for me,” Chilczuk said. “But I’m pretty fortunate that nothing has happened to my family and friends. They’re all safe and healthy.”

Through it all, she gained some new perspective.

“Don’t get mad at the little things. Let things go. Be happy and tell people you love them,” she said.

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