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Pro soccer player was two days into her first camp when her dream was put on hold

Coronavirus LGBTQ impact: Carly Nelson had just begun her pro soccer career when the shutdown hit.

Carly Nelson during training camp for the Utah Royals.

Outsports is asking LGBTQ people in sports how they are impacted by the coronavirus crisis and its effects on all aspects of daily life. Today: Soccer player Carly Nelson. She identifies as gay.

I was fresh out of college and ready to get on with my professional soccer career. Ever since the last day of my college career at Utah, I had been preparing day in and day out to train with the Utah Royals FC professional women’s soccer team.

Waiting through the anticipation of the draft, to not even knowing if a team would pick me up, I finally was invited to train alongside some of the best players in women’s soccer.

I was beyond excited and who wouldn’t be? I had been working my butt off for this moment and it was finally coming true. I had been dreaming of being a professional soccer player and playing in this league ever since I was a young kid.

This was when I needed to work harder than any time in my life. All winter, I would wake up at 5 a.m., go to work for a few hours, and then after work I would head to the weight room and then to training. I wouldn’t get home until about 8 every night. I was doing everything I could just to be as ready as possible, like most athletes do to get ready for their season.

The big day came and finally preseason was here. When we showed up the first day of preseason, everyone was ready to compete, to get after it. We ran a six-minute test, where for six minutes run as fast and far as you could. Then we did a full training.

My legs were rubbery that day and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to train let alone walk to my car after. It was very different from college — everyone wanted to be there, everyone wanted to win and everybody was good. I loved it, regardless of how hard it was — this was my dream and I was just happy to have a chance.

After two days of preseason and practicing, we had an off day, and I needed one. This was also the day when 2020 decided to make a hot mess of itself and introduced the world to COVID-19.

Camp was immediately shut down and were not allowed to train until further notice. I was sitting in my room on a Wednesday night, had just got done reading and was turning off the light when my phone buzzed with an alert from our team manager about the coronavirus. Due to what the CDC was saying, they thought it best to shut down our camp for a few days just to be safe.

They said they were going to take the weekend to deeply clean the facilities that we shared with Real Salt Lake. We all thought it was just going to be a weekend or a week-long shutdown, nothing like what has occurred.

A player on our team then spoke up that recently she experienced symptoms of COVID-19 and then was tested. We were told the day she was tested, meaning we had to wait 48 hours before we knew if she had it and we could potentially have it as well.

Many of us were freaking the hell out. We all shared water bottles, had been close to her, had talked to her, not to mention that her sweat and germs might be all over the field. If she had it, there was a very high chance that we could have been exposed to it. Fortunately, she tested negative.

Part of me was happy things got shut down for the remainder of that week because my body was so sore and I could barley move. I was also really annoyed because at the end of the day, I just wanted to play soccer and I had worked so hard to get where I was. I had no idea it was going to be this long.

We have no idea when or if our season is going to start, because at the end of the day, nobody really knows how long this will last. In the meantime, we will all prepare as best as we can to be ready for playing again

It isn’t fun to be in the dark about things and it is scary to think about what the sickness is doing to the health of people. Hopefully, it is sooner rather than later so all of us can get back to our lives.

Carly Nelson, 22, graduated from University of Utah in December 2019. She majored in Positive Psychology and is playing with the Utah Royals FC in the NWSL. She is also writing a book about growing up gay in the Mormon Church, which explains the psychological effects that come with growing up in an oppressed and limiting environment. Please reach out to her through email at carrlynelsonn@gmail.com on Instagram @carly_nelson.

Read Carly’s coming out story.

f you are an out LGBTQ person in sports and want to tell us how the coronavirus crisis has affected your life, email Jim Buzinski (kandreeky@gmail.com).