Lehigh University soon to be Alumni, Rebecca Van Siclen offers priceless advice to incoming freshman and student-athletes in general. The New Jersey native started playing soccer at a very early stage. Her parents were both former college athletes and wanted her and her siblings to follow suit. Van Siclen participated in several sports growing up; however, she found a liking more to the game of soccer. Through high school, she played lacrosse and varsity soccer as a freshman.
Van Siclen finding immense success for the Montclair Mounties eventually led to Lehigh University finding interest. In her high school career, she scored a total of 50 goals and won three consecutive state championships (2015-17), per NJ.com. While maintaining an exceptional level on the soccer field. She manages to hold her end of the bargain upon the academic side of things as well. Rebecca Van Siclen didn’t miss an honor roll once throughout her high school or collegiate career. She discusses how the competition on and off the field brings out another side of her that helps propel or elevate her to another level.
“Competition on and off the field helped me fulfill both of those desires. The success of my peers inspired me to be great. Especially, growing up in Montclair the talent from these girls and boys made me want to leave this school and have a mark as others had,” Van Siclen emphasized. “The competition on and off the field has helped me be who I am today and helped me inspire others around me, therefore, I am grateful for it.”
Rebecca Van Siclen shares what to expect and look out for
Her goal always was to make varsity going into freshman year of high school. However, she never understood how much of her time was a part of the sacrifice nor did she understand the level of commitment at the time it took to contribute at a high level. Van Siclen throughout the interview emphasized the importance of mental health and how it is not promoted enough at the younger levels.
She spoke to struggling with mental health growing up, consistently doing the same thing over and over again. While her friends went out and enjoyed their weekends, she often traveled around the country primarily playing travel soccer. She explained in great detail how grateful she was for the opportunity. However, she sometimes struggled not living a “regular” high school kid life.
In high school, being as decorated as she was as a player and still having a hard time gaining recognition from the masses had a huge effect on her mental as well. She expressed that she believes in high school it’s much easier to be recognized locally but gaining recognition nationally is a very tough task given the fact the scope of high school sports is much smaller. Rebecca Van Siclen values the respect from her peers and coaches more than ever achieving national notoriety.
“Finding respect amongst our peers is much easier because we all are grinding with one another but in college or a collegiate level many people aren’t necessarily looking for it,” said Van Siclen.
Congratulations to Erin Keefe, Ryelle Shuey and Rebecca Van Siclen of @LehighWSoccer, all named All-Patriot League honorees today!
— Lehigh Sports (@LehighSports) April 13, 2021
Biggest takeaways from college soccer and applying it to daily life
The game of soccer is more like life in one way or another. She spoke in great detail, about her favorite quote that she tries to apply to her everyday life by the late great Maya Angelou.
— Lehigh W. Soccer (@LehighWSoccer) August 3, 2020
She believes this was most prevalent throughout her sophomore year. Her sophomore year she suffered a severe injury that sidelined her for some time. She returned and eventually for unknown reasons, was replaced in the lineup by another teammate. Van Siclen was concerned and it affected her confidence and play on the field going forward. However, she didn’t let this bump in the road completely derail her from her ultimate goals.
“Things like this happen to the best of athletes. The emotions were confusing and foreign to me,” Van Siclen said. “I had to learn as an athlete. Things won’t go always your way but it’s how you come out on the other side.”
Although, this was one of the lowest points of her life. Van Siclen refused to settle for mediocracy. She appreciates the hardships and journeys and truly believes this event made her a better person today. She emphasizes if she doesn’t get pulled, she wouldn’t have pushed herself as hard to regain her former status.
The importance of building a future as a student-athlete for post-graduation
Van Siclen is set to work at Ernst & Young upon graduating, per linkedin.com. She made it abundantly clear that she emphasizes to new recruits and as many athletes as she can to start preparing and gearing up for the future. She believes playing sports is temporary and that every athlete should be branding themselves in some way or another to begin to set up additional revenue after their athletic careers come to an end.
“I think it’s super-valuable, we mostly picked Lehigh because of the impact of their education and resources after college,” said Van Siclen. “It is important to place value on yourself after your sport. Many student-athletes forget that we have unique experiences and utilize them in your professional career.”
She explained how the internship at Ernst & Young was so important to her because of her fear of not having a plan after college. Her internship at Ernst and Young was eye-opening because of the new challenges and obstacles she faced. The connections she made throughout the internship helped her shape her future going forward as well.
“At the internship, they were super inclusive and prided themselves on diversity and commitment to women in business. I enjoyed their attempt to shift and change the demographic of the corporate world,” continued Van Siclen.
Van Siclen’s final words of advice
As she looks back on her entire career, the key themes seemed to be resilience, gratitude, and peace. She mentioned that if she knew then what she knew now, Van Siclen would remind herself don’t take for anything granted, enjoy the wins more than the losses, and don’t be so hard on oneself.
“Looking back on my career and everything I was able to accomplish I also think about the hardships I had to face. Mental health is so important, and looking at the totality of my career, just don’t be so hard on yourself,” expressed Van Siclen. “There will be moments when you won’t be your best self and that’s okay. It’s a part of the process and prioritizes your mental health just as much as your physical health.”
“Also, so what if you lose more than you win. It’ll happen but with the wins and happier moments, you’ll remember more of those moments. Finally, don’t take anything for granted, and don’t be too hard on yourself,” Van Siclen continued.
Check out Rebecca speaking on her experiences here: https://youtu.be/lub_a9Vfbvs