So, what can Margaret “Midge” Purce not do?! That’s the same question I had after chatting with her this week. The No. 9 overall draft pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft has launched her professional career with the Boston Breakers all the while finishing her undergraduate studies at Harvard. What is she studying might you ask? Psychology and Neurobiology. Oh, also while being a pro soccer player. I chatted with her about how she balances pro athlete life and academics, her transition from college to the NWSL, and much more!
Hannah Kronick: You guys [Boston Breakers] have had a pretty great start to the season so far. Can you talk a little bit about how that has been?
Midge Purce: It’s been an incredible start to the season. Preseason was really fun getting to know all of the girls and the coaches. As the season progresses, you can really see our team finding ourselves–understanding the way we want to play, understanding the relationships on the field, and the patterns and tendencies of other players. It’s been a real joy getting to know everyone on and off the field.
HK: How has the adjustment been for you coming from college [Harvard] and jumping straight into the NWSL?
MP: The adjustment has been a slow progression in many ways because I am still in school. A lot of times Matt [Beard] will ask me how much homework I have the night before to see how much sleep I am going to get! It’s been pretty tough, hard and demanding–scheduling and managing my time has been a real critical component of my life right now.
HK: When do you finish school?
MP: I finish the 23rd! So, it’s good and coming up!
HK: And what about the transition soccer-wise?
MP: Soccer-wise it’s been such a huge jump. Speed of play–the standard that Matt sets is pretty high which I love and I have so much respect for, so that’s been really fun trying to reach it every single day.
HK: What’s been your favorite thing about your transition from college senior to professional athlete?
MP: Oh wow that’s hard! I like the level of play. I like that it’s challenging everyday and that soon I am going to have the time to work on all of the things that I need to improve upon religiously. I’ll have that time and that responsibility to commit myself to becoming better and strengthening a lot of components of my game.
HK: How did you handle playing division 1 soccer with a top notch Ivy League education and how did that prepare you in different ways for your pro career?
MP: Playing at Harvard was incredible. I loved every minute of it. Juggling school and extracurriculars didn’t come easy for me, it took a lot of time for me to really learn how to do it. It was a lot of discipline from my father making sure that I wasn’t out practicing when I had an exam the next day or staying up late when I had a game the next day. Just figuring out how to manage my time well was really difficult at first. I think it made the transition to pro soccer a lot easier. It gave me a lot of the tools that I needed to not fail.
HK: What was draft day like? How was finding out that you would get to stay in Boston, an area where you played college ball?
MP: That day was remarkable. I had no idea that I was going to Boston. It was such a blessing and a wonderful surprise because I knew I could continue school and play soccer at the same time. It’s something that I think a lot of people don’t really understand if you’re not graduating early–how critical it is to figure out what you’re future is actually going to be like in terms of soccer but also with your education. That was just incredible that I got to share the day with a ton of my friends. I was so excited to be with Rose [Lavelle], Morgan [Andrews] and I didn’t know it but Sammy Jo [Prudhomme] who is one of my very good friends now. It was great, it was amazing.
HK: How did you get into soccer in the first place?
MP: My brother played first. I am so close with my brother which is pretty unreal. So, of course when he was doing it, I had to do it as well. I fell in love with it. He ended up stopping and playing baseball and football. My dad has been so great about supporting me through the entire thing.
HK: When did you make that connection when you realized you wanted to pursue a career doing this?
MP: I don’t think it was any one moment–not one game or one happening. It was really because ever since I started playing soccer, I never wanted to stop. My generation has been blessed with the NWSL and the opportunity to play. And with that opportunity, I was like “yeah I am going to take it.”
HK: What can we find you doing when you’re not training or studying?
MP: I love to go paint balling. That is the biggest rush. I love doing that. Right now, I am re-watching Game of Thrones with my teammates that’s taking a lot of my time right now. It’s been fun! I love also hanging with my dad and my brother.