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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Prepare, work hard, learn and grow: Life lessons learned by former Brighton athlete

Nov 01, 2021 02:19PM ● By Jerry Christensen

2014 WAC Championship Match where Verdoia was named Conference and Tournament MVP. She was second in nation in scoring and assists. (Photo courtesy GOALWA.NET/ Wilson Tsoi)

By Jerry Christensen | [email protected]

NOTE: This is an ongoing column highlighting Brighton athletes who continue to excel at the next levels. Send profile recommendations to [email protected]

Long after their playing days, most high school athletes will carry a handful of memories that stay with them their entire lives. Teammates. Grueling workouts. The highs and lows of representing their school. And, many times, those memories turn out to be “life lessons.”

Former Brighton High soccer standout Stephanie Verdoia (Class of 2011) is a case in point.

“Learning that training and preparation are a key to success,” Verdoia says as she ticks off the memories of her four years on the Bengal varsity squad, culminating in the 5A state championship in 2010. “Trusting your teammates, and knowing they can count on you. Trying to find something in the setbacks that can make you smarter the next day.” 

In addition to the state championship, Verdoia wrapped a storied career at Brighton by being selected the 5A Most Valuable Player, as well as the Gatorade Player of the Year for Utah. But her career on the field was merely the beginning. 

At Seattle University, Verdoia was a three-time All-Conference Forward in the Western Athletic Conference, twice being selected the Offensive Player of the Year, as well as being selected the WAC Female Student Athlete of the Year in 2014. Her senior season she led the Redhawks to their deepest run in school history in the NCAA women’s soccer tournament. The Seattle Sports Commission selected her the Woman Athlete of the Year in 2015.

But the lessons of the field were also translating to the classroom for Verdoia. She was selected the CapitalOne/CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for women’s soccer, and bestowed the NCAA’s Senior Class Award for outstanding academic and community service achievement. She was subsequently honored as a finalist for the NCAA Woman Athlete of the Year.

The stage seemed set for a long-planned career step to law school. But soccer was not quite ready to let go of the Utah native. She was selected by the United States Women’s National Team to join the under-23 roster for an international tournament in Spain, lining up with players who would become stalwarts on future Olympic and World Cup teams. Then, in the spring of 2015, she was drafted by the Boston Breakers of the NWSL and turned professional. 

Three years of international competition—culminating in the championship match in Oslo for the Norwegian Women’s Football Cup—were challenging and rewarding, but not the career path she continued to dream of. In the fall of 2018 Verdoia enrolled in the University of Washington School of Law. Three years later, after legal experiences ranging from advocacy for indigent women to research into compensation for college athletes, she graduated from law school and began her practice as an attorney with a Seattle firm.

“But I still remember those lessons learned at Brighton High,” she said. “Prepare and work hard. Be strong for those you work with, as they will be strong for you. And if today goes against you, learn and grow.”