By Derek Peralta
Professional athletes have big built-in platforms to inspire others. Some use it for good while others don’t consider its magnitude.
Sky Blue FC veteran Rachel Breton knows that her influence can travel far from the soccer field if she wants it to. The 25-year-old from Manalapan, New Jersey. sees herself as much more than a soccer player, and that’s why it’s easy for her to make a difference in the lives of others.
Going to Meet Opportunity
Breton started playing soccer at 4 years old. Her father, Homere Breton, played professionally for the Houston Dynamos, and the “Daddy’s girl” enjoyed kicking the ball around with him. By 7 years old, she started training with him on a more serious level.
“He used to drive me nuts because he was so good and so fit,” Breton said. “We would go on runs, and he’d be blocks away. Now, guess who’s doing that to him?”
Breton fell in love with the game because it was an “escape.” When she was having a bad day at school or if she was fighting with her best friend, she could go out on the pitch and forget all about it.
Breton was a strong student in school who valued education over sports.
“Think about it. If I break my leg and can’t play again, what do I have to fall back on? Nothing if I don’t pursue education,” Breton said. “I can’t play forever. I don’t want to play forever. You want to meet opportunity and not have opportunity meet you and be unprepared.”
She did so well in school that she went on to study and play soccer at Villanova, where she also earned degrees in English and psychology.
A Player’s Coach
After college in 2013, Breton was called up from Sky Blue’s reserve team to make her debut as a professional. She made it to the highest level because of a simple belief stemming from the words of the famous philosopher, Descartes.
“He said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ I 100% agree with that,” Breton said. “If you think that you’re done, then you’re done. If you think that you can’t, then you can’t. How is anyone supposed to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself?”
Along with playing the sport she loves, she also coaches it. She trains young players at all ages to play to the best of their abilities.
“Coaching helps me be better on and off the field,” Breton said. “I love to give back, and I think your purpose isn’t just to do a good job, but you have to help others make themselves want to do a good job. It’s like a domino effect, and you can make it go down in the right direction.”
Playing for the Love of the Game
You would think that as a professional athlete, Breton makes plenty of money, but the truth is, she plays in the National Women’s Soccer League, where players aren’t compensated well compared to other sports.
According to Esquire, the minimum annual salary is $6,842 in the league on average, which is nothing compared to the NHL’s $550,000.
“I don’t care about money because when you’re dead, you can’t bring it with you. It’s baggage,” Breton said. “The only thing you have left is your heart and your soul. However, you have to support yourself. I have to be able to maintain a mortgage. You have to figure out a way to make all of it work. Money can come and it can go in a day.”
Breton isn’t bringing in the big bucks, but in speaking to us students at the Children’s Aid Society in Harlem, she gave more than money can offer.
And that is a true professional.
Derek Peralta is a sophomore at All Hallows High School in the Bronx, NY. He aspires to be a lawyer and a politician. “If everything goes smoothly, then President of the United States.” Derek was one of the students in On Deck, Purpose2Play’s sports journalism program.