|Weddington High grad Remi Roberts returns to 49ers women's soccer|
|Senior stepped back after multiple concussions|
|Published Monday, July 27, 2020 5:25 pm|
|CHARLOTTE 49ERS ATHLETICS|
|Wedding High graduate Remi Roberts, who stepped away from soccer due to multiple concussions, is returning for her senior season with the Charlotte 49ers.|
The defender’s career has been plagued by concussions to the point where she semi-retired, but she decided to return for her senior season. Roberts’ first concussion happened as a senior in high school while she was playing basketball. It felt like a cycle, with concussions occurring every five or six months. She did not play her junior year with the 49ers but remained involved with the team.
“I decided if I was just to retire, step away, that maybe it would break the cycle,” Roberts said. “Coach [John] Cullen asked me back in November if I wanted to come back and play again. I had been thinking about it off and on because I stayed around the game, helping the coaches on the sideline. It’s one of those, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ moments.”
Said Cullen: “We’re all hoping Remi has a great last season with us. She’s a product who came through Charlotte Soccer Academy and Weddington High School. She was a standout player not only as a soccer player but as a basketball player. She had the ability to be recruited to play basketball at the collegiate level. Her first passion was soccer.”
Roberts strives to be a role model for other Black soccer players in a very white sport. She was the only Black player on her high school team, and while she sees more diversity at the collegiate level, she wants girls who look like her to know they can get to that level, too.
“It is a little bit different being an African American soccer player because there aren’t a ton of role models, but it is special because I do get to be that role model for, say the little girl I’m training who is also Black, just so she can see, ‘yeah it can be done, whether I play big minutes or I’m just on the bench,’” Roberts said. “It can be done.”
United States women’s national team and North Carolina Courage striker Jessica McDonald spoke to the 49ers during quarantine via Zoom and provided inspiration about overcoming adversity.
“Her path was definitely not easy, and I can relate to that,” Roberts said. “Just our coaches inviting an African American player to come talk to us, that alone meant a lot to me personally, and probably to others on the team because we’re able to learn from her experiences.”
Roberts eagerly awaits her return to the pitch and looks forward to leading Charlotte’s 14 new players.
“We have a chance to set the standard for the next couple of years,” she said. “I’m glad to be a part of that.”
At 6-foot-1, Roberts is a tremendously composed center back, but her history with concussions forces her to adjust her technique when competing for the ball in the air without being afraid to use her head.
“It’s getting over the mental hump, of yes, ‘I’m going to have to head the ball—I’m not just going to avoid it,’ but also picking and choosing the moments,” Roberts said. “Maybe not heading it straight off of a punt if I don’t have to—just being smart about it. Not necessarily changing my game that much, because heading is a big part of being 6-foot-1. It comes with the job description. Not necessarily cutting it out, but picking and choosing the moments.”
Roberts started a vlog during quarantine to document what goes into training for Division I soccer: sweat, grit and all.
“I feel like people don’t know what goes into training to be a collegiate athlete,” she said. “In the fitness industry, you see all the perfect shots, all the clips that are edited or trimmed to really get the best angle. I figured why not get the raw footage, where it’s all the bad touches, all the out of breath moments – just the authenticity of being in a sport.”
Watch Roberts’ vlog:
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