Growing up surrounded by soccer lovers, it’s no surprise that freshman Aila Durakovic found her passion for the sport at a young age. With the combination of natural talent and hard work, Durakovic’s soccer skills were quick to impress and led her to making the varsity team.
When Durakovic heard her name get called for this year’s varsity roster, she knew that all of the sacrifices she made for the sport were well worth it.
“No matter how much we’re losing or winning by, it’s the team and passion that keeps me going. I never give up because I would never let my team down. We all play and work hard for each other,” Durakovic said. “The love for the game keeps me going as well. Everyday I push myself to be better than I was before. Soccer is something that has always been apart of my life and a part of me.”
Durakovic explained that what she loves most about the game is the way it brings out her best.
“It’s a pretty aggressive sport that requires a lot of different skills. It’s just fun to go out on the field and leave everything you have out there. Everyone plays differently and every team is a new challenge, but each game you get another chance to improve your skills,” Durakovic said.
Playing a sport that is physically and mentally exhausting means it’s not easy to manage to school work after long and exhausting practices.
“It’s not easy to balance school and soccer. I take advantage of my study hall to finish my work and to get some studying done before practice. Also my friends always offer me extra help if I need it,” Durakovic said.
Having your family stand behind you is essential for success. Luckily for Durakovic, she has her older brother, Niles West alum Denis Soldo, to help guide her in soccer and in life.
“My brother is someone I really look up to. He’s always determined to to help me get better,” Durakovic said. “He’s accomplished so much in soccer and is one of the most motivated person I know.”
Durakovic is always looking to get more touches on the ball, so she’d often put in extra work with Soldo.
“She’s never good enough in her own mind, so she would ask me to go to the field with her just so she can get in extra work outside of her regular trainings,” Soldo said. “Just by seeing how hard she works and how much she wants to improve herself directly relates to her making the varsity soccer team.”
Soccer has brought Durakovic upon many new friendships.
“I’ve never seen a freshman so hard-working and dedicated to a sport. She’s a great aspect to our team this year and I’m looking forward to continue to see her grow as a player and as a person,” senior teammate Ashorena Michael said.
Durakovic’s positive energy shows on and off of the field.
“Aila is the type of person who can light up a room with just a smile, she’s so full of positive energy and she always knows how to make me laugh, even when I don’t want to,” freshman Katie Trail. “She has impacted my life for the better, she always makes me feel like I can go to her with anything. She helped me realize what a real friend is.”
Freshman Anna Urosev has been best friends with Durakovic since they were little. Even though Durakovic moved schools in fourth grade, they still kept in close contact.
“Aila means a lot to me because she is one of my oldest best friends. She’s made me a better person by always motivating me and making me want to work my hardest at everything I do in life,” Urosev said. “She is so supportive of everything do; I am so proud of how much she has accomplished.”
With the achievement of making the varsity team as a freshman, Durakovic isn’t looking to stop there. She has already set higher goals to keep challenging herself.
“She understands the challenges ahead and isn’t comfortable with just making the team, but she wants to be one of the top players.With her hard work, I wouldn’t doubt that happening by the time she’s a junior or senior,” Soldo said.