STORY BY COLE NORUM
This season, senior women’s soccer player Generve Charles has been forced to balance her time between a Drake team bound for the MVC Championship Semifinals and Haiti’s Women’s National Soccer team.
Charles, who scored in her first-ever appearance with the Haitian team, sat down with The Times-Delphic to discuss adjusting to different playing styles, gaining a deeper appreciation for Haitian culture and her experience playing against Abby Wambach and the U.S. Women’s National team.
Times-Delphic: Have you had to adjust your mindset coming into this season, balancing time between the Drake women’s team and the Haiti National team?
Generve Charles: I have kind of two different roles, playing on two different teams. Whereas on this team, I’m a starter. I play a lot of minutes, am a captain and have a bigger role.
When I go play with Haiti, I come off the bench. I haven’t been playing with those girls for very long, I’ve only played in two tournaments with them, so I’m still getting adjusted. The level of comfort is different, I’m still adjusting to how the Haiti women’s team is playing, still kind of learning their style and how the other girls play.
TD: What can you do to make sure your impact on a team’s chemistry is positive?
GC: Everyone has a role on the team. Being, per say, the “New Girl” on the team, they welcomed me in as if I was family and they’d known me forever. I didn’t feel like I needed to be standoffish or hide how I normally would be with my Drake team.
TD: What went through your mind as you took the field against the U.S. Women’s National Team?
GC: I think that was the most surreal moment of my soccer career. You grow up as a soccer player, especially a female player, and those are the girls and the team you grow up watching. You always watch them on TV, watch them with your friends and your teammates and your family and then, all of a sudden, I’m standing, about to sub-in and go play on the actual field with them.
It was almost like I wasn’t really there. My family was there too, so it was awesome. I’m glad I got to share it with them. They were all super excited for me and all my teammates watched it on TV. It was unbelievable. Definitely a lucky opportunity.
TD: Are there any women on the U.S. team whose game you’ve modeled yours after or who have influenced your playing style?
GC: Not necessarily my playing style. But I’m someone who would be thought of on the field as a goal-scorer, being a forward in the midfield, so Abby Wambach is a pure goal scorer. She’s unbelievable. She scored two goals against us, I think. I’ve always really loved how she plays.
TD: Has the experience playing for the Haiti team drawn you closer to the country? Has it made you think of your heritage and ancestry?
GC: Growing up, (the Haitian)side of my family — my dad’s side — was very important, and it wasn’t something that wasn’t talked about or stressed to us. It was still a very big part. But, at the same time, all of my mom’s family is in the United States, and my grandparents live like 20 minutes away from us. So obviously, American culture has always been the main focus in our family.
It was really cool because my dad came on all the trips and I got to see him interacting with the girls. They acted like they had known each other their whole lives.
I knew my dad had a really tough upbringing as a man-of-the-family and in charge of everything and came over (to the US) for college. Seeing those girls and seeing how they, too, have serious hardships they’d been through before they came to the United States just reminded me of that. It reiterated how lucky I am that my dad came over here and did this for us.
Now, I have this opportunity, pretty much, because of him and my family being a part of that. My mom likes to say, “Everything comes full circle.”
TD: Do you have post-Drake plans to continue playing soccer?
GC: Right now, I’m not really sure what my plans are. I’m kind of leaving everything open right now, just because I don’t necessarily know what I want to do. I’m not blocking anything out, and I’m not locking anything in. Right now, I’m pretty open to anything. I know (Haiti coach Shek Borkowski) is kind of working on rebuilding the team.
Charles is now back with the Drake squad, as they knocked off Loyola in the opening round of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on Saturday. The Bulldogs take on Evansville in Normal, Illinois in the MVC semifinals on Friday.