By Katelyn Merrell
Allison Nicole Zwerling was “born to play soccer.” A naturally fast runner, physically strong athlete, and technically skillful forward, Allie possesses all the necessary qualities of the “ideal player.” Her love of the game began at the age of five when her soccer career first started. Allie joined an AYSO team, “The Purple Butterflies.” From the moment Allie began playing she “fell in love with the game.” Her soccer journey initially began at the age of five, but didn’t truly take hold until her sixth grade year. In sixth grade Allie joined her first club team, Tustin Premier. Two years later she joined the SoCal Blues, for whom she currently plays. She also plays center forward for Tustin High School. Last season Allie was voted the overall MVP of the Empire League as well as receiving the award for top goal scorer in the league.
On June 6th, 2014 Allie verbally committed to Sacramento State University. Just months earlier, Randy Dedini, the head coach at Sacramento State began to pursue Allie after the Vegas Showcase during the spring of her junior year.
“Sacramento State was never really on my radar. I would just send them the ‘generic’ email you send to all the colleges you are interested in. But then, out of the blue they emailed me and told me, ‘We want you and would love to have you be a part of our women’s soccer program.’”
Allie had never really considered Sac State until Coach Dedini reached out to her. She knew about Sacramento State through former Tustin High graduate Nick Hornsby who currently plays basketball ball for the Hornets. Both Nick Hornsby and Allie’s older sister, Jessica Zwerling, graduated in 2012. As Allie became more interested in Sac State, Coach Dedini invited her to tour the school. She spent an entire day in April touring the school and meeting the girls currently on the Hornet’s women’s soccer team. At the end of the tour Dedini offered her a spot on the team. However, Dedini told her, “You won’t receive any scholarship money your freshman year because I like to see how the freshmen transfer into the college playing style and life before I start giving out scholarships. However, in your last three years, that is where you can earn your scholarship money.” With this knowledge in mind, Zwerling is more determined than ever to make her freshman year in college a successful one.
After her tour of the school Allie thought about why she would want to go there. She explained, “It’s a D1 school, it’s an hour away from my sister (who plays at Sonoma State), and it has nursing and medical program, so I was like, ‘why not?’” Allie wants to pursue a career as either an anesthesiologist or as a trauma surgeon. She plans to acquire a doctorates degree by the time she graduates. “I’m going to be in school for like a bazillion years,” Zwerling said as she giggled. Allie explained, “You don’t choose a school based on the sports team you want to play for. You choose the school you want to get the best education from.” After discovering that Sac State had everything she wanted in a school she was “one hundred percent sure Sacramento State was the school for [her].”
Allie continued, “There were other schools interested in me, but none of them were as good as Sacramento.” Some of the schools that were interested in her were Belmont Abbey, the University of Utah, University of California at Santa Barbara, Navy, San Jose State, San Diego State University, and a few small Eastern schools. “My club team played in a lot of tournaments and showcases on the East Coast because most of the girls on my team wanted to go to schools back East,” Zwerling elaborated. Allie laughingly admits that at the beginning of the college recruiting process her dream schools were Stanford and Notre Dame, “the typical cliché dream schools every athlete wants to go to. The typical division one dream schools.”
When asked about her feelings on starting over and going off to college, Allie responded with wide eyes, “I am exhilarated! I cannot wait to leave! Tustin is great and I am going to miss a lot of people, but I have to get out of here. I want to prove to myself I can do things on my own.” Allie’s eyes continued to light up as she talked about playing in college. Knowing she will be able to play with girls who are as passionate as she is about soccer, enhances her excitement about becoming a Hornet. She is looking forward to getting to know all the girls because she knows they are going to become her “second family.” Allie expressed, “I’m excited to play for a good team where all the girls are motivated and want to be there and all have the same goals and are all on the same level and all want to win and all worked their butts off to get there.”
Allie is a gifted athlete who is pursuing her goals, however her journey has most definitely been filled with a fair share of adversity. Allie has unfortunately experienced five concussions from 8th grade to sophomore year. The last restricted her from any physical activity for eight months during her sophomore year. “The concussion was so bad…I can’t even really remember what happened when I got hit. All I can remember was being on the bench and being completely out of it. Everything was in fluorescent colors and I couldn’t remember anything. School was horrible! Some of my teachers gave me a N/A for the first semester because I was so out of it. I also had to go into solitary confinement for 48 hours right after I got the concussion; no phone, no music, no lights, no interaction with people until my head ache was gone. It was absolutely horrible.” Allie’s voice sounded like that of a helpless child as she reminisced the nightmare. After her fifth concussion the doctor informed Allie of some terrifying news. “When he told me I would never be able to play soccer or any other sport for the rest of my life if I got another concussion I was crushed.” Disheartened and depressed, Allie went through a period of time where she struggled to find the courage to continue playing. “I was scared. It could’ve been something stupid like an elbow to the head and then BAM! That’s it… I would never be able to play the sport I love ever again.” With this in mind, most people would give up, but not Allie.
With the help of her club coach Dido and her “stylish” head gear, Allie began to play again with just as much intensity as she had before she got the concussions. Allie explained, “At the beginning I was really nervous, but then Dido helped me to learn some techniques like feeling around so I can identify where the defenders are around me.” Allie’s passion and love for the game is even greater than most players because she knows she has to play every single game like it’s her last because the fact is, it very well could be. With her history of concussions Allie has become a huge supporter of raising concussion awareness. When she received her first couple of concussions, Allie acknowledges that she was uninformed of the severity and dangers of them. “It is important for people to become educated on concussions because if I would have been more educated I probably wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in now.”
“What is so special about soccer anyway?” I asked Allie.
“Oh man! To be honest I just love how it adapts to its own game. It’s not like football and basketball. Soccer doesn’t have any “set plays,” you have to feel the game and adapt as you play because there are so many different options you can make when you are playing. There is just so much room to be creative and I just love it! I just think it’s beautiful! It’s art!” Allie’s passion for the game continues to grow as she gets closer and closer to achieving her dream of playing Division One “fútbol.”
Fun Facts about the 5’8”, blonde haired, blue eyed forward:
1.) She LOVES pop tarts! She has one every single morning! But only the s’mores ones, she doesn’t like the fruit ones.
2.) Her birthday is February 14, 1997 (Valentine’s Day)
3.) When Allie isn’t playing sports she says she is “one of the the laziest people you will ever meet!” You will often see her sporting her classic bum look (hair in a bun, baggy sweats, and some type of college wear jacket).
4.) Her favorite movie is The Hangover , but only the first one because she thinks the rest of them suck.