VT soccer senior Caroline Cipolla reflects on Costa Rica trip, lost season

Carolina Cipolla

The Virginia Tech women’s soccer team traveled to Costa Rica during the 2019 season. Rising senior Caroline Cipolla kept a journal while she was on her trip and was willing to share her memories of the trip and her reflections in the aftermath of the cancelled 2020 soccer eason.

Sitting jampacked on a bus with my best friends, coaches, and their families on a team trip seemed so normal a year ago. Now, we are spread out all over the country in our hometowns and haven’t seen each other in person since March 5. As a rising-senior, I would do anything to be back with my team right now, but this time apart has given me the opportunity to reflect. My team was fortunate to be able to travel to Costa Rica last year. The Virginia Tech men’s soccer team was supposed to go on the same trip right around this time but were not able to go.
One of the greatest opportunities college soccer has given me is the chance to travel to different cities across the country. Going to Costa Rica was the first time that, as a team, we traveled outside of the country, and it gave me the opportunity to experience a completely new culture and see a beautiful and vastly different country. Our trip was filled with amazing moments. We played the Costa Rican National team, went ziplining through a rain forest, and even stayed at the base of an active volcano.
One of my favorite memories from the trip was the day we spent volunteering in the town of Dominical. Some of my teammates spent the day picking up trash at the beach while the rest of us helped paint a local school, La Escuela Dominical de Osa. The school looked nothing like the elementary schools we go to in the U.S., and this was the first time I had been exposed to anything like that. We spent the entire day making muchneeded improvements to the school. It was amazing how appreciative they were of a paint job done by amateur college students. After the school walls and my teammates were both covered in paint, we sat with the kids and gave them supplies, gifts and toys that we had collected prior to the trip. Little girls’ and boys’ eyes widened as they saw colored pencils, soccer balls and stickers. I recognized at that moment that there were many things in my life at home that I took for granted.
Similarly, I am again having those feelings. Being able to see my best friends every morning or play a game of pickup soccer is now uncommon; just as the toys and supplies were to the little boys and girls from the school. That day, my team became much closer. We bonded over the love for the kids we had helped and the joy we saw on their faces when we painted their school and gave them the gifts.
What I draw from the memory of that day is the hope that just as that day brought my team together – because of our shared appreciation for helping those children – that during this time of isolation from each other, we will also find appreciation, joy, and camaraderie as we need to pull together as a team to support each other.

In that moment, I did not fully realize how fortunate my team was to be able to go to Costa Rica. I do not know what the trip will look like for the men’s team nor do I have any idea what my senior season will look like. However, I am so thankful Virginia Tech women’s soccer gave me the opportunity to have this unique experience.
I saw and did things I never have before and got to spend countless hours with my best friends. I was able to grow my relationships with teammates in other class years. Some of those relationships that I fostered on the trip are now some of my closest friends. I look forward to seeing my teammates, coaching staff and tech women’s soccer supporters when we are able. However, for now I hope everyone is staying happy, healthy and safe, and is reflecting on all we have to be thankful for in our lives.

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