By Larissa Campos
After months of challenges and uncertainty, former Baylor midfielder Hanna Gilmore found a home with the Chicago Red Stars as she signed to the team’s final roster as part of the newly formed National Women’s Soccer League. As she adjusts to her new life as a professional soccer player, Gilmore answered some questions about the journey she is on and what the future may hold for her.
Q: How have you as a player adjusted to play professionally?
A: As a player, the biggest adjustment I have had to make is the mentality side of my game. Being able to train physically and technically at a high level under an extreme amount of pressure takes a lot of focus.
Q: Is the style of soccer with the Red Stars different from what you were used to at Baylor?
A: The style is very different. There is much more emphasis on possession, technique and smaller combinations. However, the mentality aspect of working hard and fighting is consistent within both teams. Which is what wins games.
Q: What was your first reaction when you found out you were going to be signed to the Chicago Red Stars?
A: I was so excited and honored honestly more than anything. I have never thought I was any good and I still don’t think I am. But to be on a team with some of the girls I grew up idolizing is really humbling but so special.
Q: Did your experience at Baylor prepare you for the journey you are on?
A: Definitely. The way [the coaches] helped me grow as a soccer player and as a person is one of the main reasons I am able to be doing what I am doing.
Q: Do you think professional is something you would like to continue doing long term?
A: You know, that’s a good question, but my answer is yes. If doors are continuing to be opened, I will run through them at full speed. But if they are closed I will be understanding and just as happy.
Q: Growing up, did you have dreams of playing professional soccer?
Oh yeah. Besides my dream of singing and dancing like Shania Twain, I wrote on every paper in elementary school that I wanted to be a professional soccer player. At that time, I think people probably laughed at both of those dreams.
Q: How has it been getting to know new girls and a new coach?
A: It has been so fun. I love getting to know new people and to hear their stories and perspectives, which is very broad. My teammates ages range from about 22-35 and they are from all over the world. Some don’t even speak English. The new coaching is great as well because I am learning so many new aspects of the game.
Q: What advice can you give to college athletes with plans to play professionally after they graduate?
A: Trust God. And if that means to go for it, go for it with all your heart and soul. Whether you choose to play or not to play, believe in your choice and enjoy it. Most importantly, just enjoy it and be yourself.
Q: How has this adventure affected your educational and career plans? When will you graduate? What kind of job will you pursue when soccer is over?
A: I do not have a definite answer to graduation and career plans, but it has affected my graduation plans a little. I will not graduate with the rest of my class, but I will return in the fall to complete my undergrad and MBA. When soccer is over, whenever that is, I would love to start my own business with something that makes me have to work with a lot of people.