After a difficult year filled with adversity, pregnancy and determination -- professional soccer player Sydney Leroux promised herself that she would get back to the field after giving birth to her daughter no matter what it took.
So, when she was able to return just three months after going into labor, the comeback was emotional.
Leroux gave birth to her second child, now 3-month-old daughter named Roux, at the end of June. However, having her daughter at the beginning of her professional soccer team, the Orlando Pride’s, season wasn’t always in her plan.
“This year didn’t really go as planned for me and my family,” Leroux said. “I was supposed to have a baby in March and then go on and be able to play most of the season, but we lost that baby last year.”
After her miscarriage, Leroux got pregnant again and would be due at the beginning of the Pride’s season. While many said she would miss all of this season’s games, Leroux knew she wanted to make it back to play this season -- at least a part of it -- like she had originally planned.
“My plan was to be back this season regardless of what it looked like,” Leroux said. “I was going to make it happen.”
Leroux played while pregnant and began training again, with the blessing of her doctor, just five weeks after giving birth to her daughter.
“When you give birth your body is different,” Leroux said. “I still have baby weight from my pregnancy. You have to almost learn how to use your body again. It’s like your mind works but your body doesn’t keep up. I still feel like I have a ways to go but every day I feel stronger.”
At Sunday’s game Leroux walked onto the field for the first time that season with her daughter in her arms. Overwhelmed with emotion, Leroux burst into tears.
“It was so emotional. It’s been a hard year,” Leroux said. “I think that’s what's so emotional for me because I went through that experience last year with my team and I was able to come back with that same group for the end of the season.”
Not only were her teammates supportive, Leroux said she felt the support of so many people during and after her comeback.
“We had an away game and even fans from the other team were cheering for me and that was really special,” Leroux said. “There’s sports and then there’s really life. I feel like I didn’t necessarily see how hard it was because I was in it. There was a lot of support and people who read out who were really proud of me. That’s always a good feeling.”
Leroux hopes her comeback will encourage other women who are striving for a balance between family and their careers.
“We think when we have children and we start a family that we can't continue on with our dreams and our hopes and our aspirations,” Leroux said. “I think it’s really important to see that life doesn’t have to stop and you can have a family and have a career and be able to do them at the same time.”