At college, she juggles study, soccer

At college, she juggles study, soccer

Riley West celebrated the accomplishment of graduating from Whitehall High School in June and is now celebrating a milestone of being named to the Mountain Valley Women’s Soccer All-Conference team. West has worked hard through the fall at Hudson Valley Community College and is excited for this new chapter.

“I went through some training over the summer to get ready, then practices started going and we got a new head coach this year which was pretty cool so everything is kind of new for the team,” West said.

West has been adjusting to a new normal at HVCC in Troy and is gelling well with the new coach, Kurtis Smith.

Smith is a UEFA (Union of European Football) and USSF (United States Soccer Federation) licensed coach with more than 12 years of coaching experience in the UK and U.S. He moved to the U.S. in 2017 and started working as a premier coach and tournament director for global premier soccer in Albany. The team was 9-6 for the season this year. West spoke about his moves for her during the season.

“I started as attacking mid-field for the first few games and then they needed someone to play right-back, a defender position. I had never played defense so I really had to focus and figure it out. I played that position for a couple of games and then my coach realized my strongest position is attacking mid-field and he moved me back for the last six games or so,” she said.

“He’s a younger coach and we get along with him so well, even our assistant coach, we weren’t expecting a new coach this year so it was a little shocking. He made it fun and I like him a lot so I’m excited to work with him again this spring and next fall.”

Being a freshman, West had no thoughts of being able to play attacking mid-field in her first season with the team, but she was very thankful come to the end of the season for her placement on the field.

“That’s just not how it goes; you don’t always get what you want. So, when he told me I was playing defense I took it as a new opportunity to maybe become good at defense and ending up doing well. But I didn’t really care about that too much,” she said.

West is not only an athlete for Hudson Valley, she is also a student. She described the pace of college to be faster than in high school and it caused some nerves for her at the start of the academic year.

“The beginning of the year was really nerve-wracking for me because of being a freshman at college and on the soccer team. So, that was very new,” she said.

West is not only expected to complete her classwork, but she also has packed schedules between workouts, practices, and games – all while learning about her chosen career path of psychology. She spoke about the change of pace and how she adjusted to it.

“I have a lot of stuff to juggle with soccer and my academics are much harder in college than it was in high school,” she said. “High school teachers understand that you play sports and high school should be enjoyed, but college is like you either focus on school, sports, or you try to figure out how to do both.

“It’s only my first year so hopefully that’s why it was a little tough trying to figure it all out in such a short amount of time.”

West is currently interested in the field of psychology and is looking into a career path of researching the human sleeping patterns and dreaming. She said she finds the field intriguing and wants to continue to learn about different forms of dreaming as well as the neuroscience behind nightmares.

“I want to do research on lucid dreaming, nightmares, and cool things like that because I have always had an interest in it. I’m not looking to make a career out of soccer, so I’m trying to find the route I want to take with psychology and that I love. But as of right now, my plan is to go more of a research route.”

Something West has also learned with departing from Whitehall for school is that she cherishes the time she gets to spend with her friends and family. When asked if she was excited to part ways with Whitehall, she described feeling hesitance toward the big move.

“In a way, it was really hard because I have a twin brother at home that’s a senior this year and it’s really hard leaving family,” she said. “Even though I’m only two hours away, it’s still a little tough not being there but in the big picture I think it’s really good that I got out and I’m trying to expand what I can do and grow as a person by myself.”

West said she feels a lot of people don’t get a chance to play college sports or even go to college, so she is thankful for the opportunities that have come her way. When looking back on her soccer career, she said, she’s thankful for her friend, Zoe Eggleston.

“I have really supportive family members and friends. My friend Zoe, she went to West Point, she inspired me to get out because she’s a college athlete as well. She and all my friends from school inspired me to get out of Whitehall and play soccer which I never thought I would do,” she said.