The Pro Player Journey with Summer Mason
We’re always so inspired by the women who make up the #IDAWAVE.They’re multidimensional athletes with stories and passions that weave in and out of the world of soccer and beyond.
Today we caught up with IDA Ambassador and Classica-enthusiast, Summer Mason! Check out our Q&A to be inspired by her professional journey in soccer.
10. Where are you from originally and how did you first get involved in the game?
I am originally from Carlsbad, CA, which is near San Diego. My parents tried me in a few things like dance and gymnastics when I was young as those were the things my sister enjoyed doing, but those were not the right fit for me at all. My parents' friend was coaching a rec soccer team when I was 5 and told them to bring me out to try it. The minute I hit that soccer field, it was instant. I knew at that moment I was born to play this sport. By 6 I told everyone "I will play professional soccer". That was just the beginning.
9. What was your youth soccer experience like?
My youth soccer experience was quite rocky and full of ups and big downs. I am a bit shorter and always have been, so I went from team to team every couple of years because I had countless coaches tell me I'd never play pro or even D1 college soccer because of my size. No matter how hard I worked or how much I proved myself, this became a constant theme in my soccer journey, so I always had to fight for each level.
As tough as that was and as difficult as it was to progress without support and connections, I will always appreciate how resilient it made me. It could have broken my confidence, and that's not to say there weren't moments I felt dejected and down, but it taught me to be confident in myself, my abilities, and my work ethic no matter what anyone said to me. I learned to be adaptable to new teams, earn my sport no matter what, and be confident in who I am and that I would get to where I wanted to get if I worked hard enough and wanted it enough.
8. What were your soccer dreams as a young person and how have they changed (or not!)?
My soccer dreams after just my first year of playing soccer we're to play professionally. I never really thought about college soccer or anything other than playing professionally and for the USWNT. While I had plenty of moments of feeling burnt out, unappreciated, or like the uphill battle would never end, I had my sights set on that goal and didn't let anyone or anything get in my way.
I have since played professionally in the first division in 3 countries, and my goal is still to play professionally in the US, which I think will come to fruition this year with the new USL Super League bringing more professional opportunities to the US. I still strive to play for the USWNT, but I have found so many new joys and priorities in life that I am not forcing this to happen. I have chosen to just continue to work hard, take the opportunities as they come up, and if I finally get the opportunity to prove myself and earn a spot, then my biggest goal will finally be accomplished.
7. What are your proudest moments either on or off the field?
My proudest moments include my record breaking high school soccer and track senior season, my collegiate career, graduating with my Bachelors in Psychology from USD, playing professionally and living in other countries, marrying my husband, starting my many businesses to begin working solely for myself, and continuing to work on myself and work towards my dreams!
My senior year in high school I broke the school record for goals and assists, winning many school, county, and state awards. Additionally, it was the first year I decided to run track and broke the record in three different events.
My collegiate career was full of very difficult moments both in soccer and life, from having to transfer after my freshman year, dealing with a coach change my junior year, and so on, but I thoroughly enjoyed playing and fighting hard to make a name for myself in hopes of playing professionally. While I haven't found much use for my college degree besides the knowledge I've gained, getting a college degree from a prestigious school like USD while playing soccer was no easy feat.
After my first pro season in Finland after graduating, COVID hit and I decided to take a break from soccer and learn more about myself. This brought my husband into my life, my business ideas to fruition, and a deeper understanding of who I am outside of being a soccer player. This was something that was life changing for me and I recommend all players do it if they feel stuck, burnt out, or lacking an identity.
6. What’s the most challenging part of pursuing a career as a pro soccer player?
The most challenging part of pursuing a pro career is if you lack support from a coach or connections. I have worked with three different agents and each has been very bad. Agents in women's sports, other than the ones representing the top players in the world, seem to be lacking in many ways. I have learned I am my own best agent and have decided to represent myself. This is not easy as I don't have the amount of connections as agents nor do I have a third person vouching for me, which seems riskier to teams to sign a player like me.
Professional opportunities are not easy to find, especially if you're not extremely well known or have been out of college for a few years. Getting your foot in the door requires patience, taking as many opportunities as you can, and doing everything you can to prove yourself when you get the chance.
5. What keeps you going?
My passion for soccer and the goals of playing pro in the US and on the USWNT keep me going. When I took a break from soccer for 1-2 years, I tried other sports to find new passions, but nothing gave me the joy and feeling of being alive like soccer. Every time I have strayed away it feels as though a part of me is missing.
The time between teams when I train on my own for months on end and play pick up soccer, brings me more joy than any other sport I've tried. When I get on a team, that joy and passion grow. I hope to make it big enough to be able to be an inspiration for the youth players that weren't supported or that were told they wouldn't make it. I also hope to be an inspiration for adult athletes or even non athletes, to not quit on your dreams even when it feels so far out of reach.
4. Do you coach? What’s the most challenging and rewarding parts of being a coach?
At the moment, I only do private and small group soccer trainings, but I have coached some club and high school teams in the past. I absolutely LOVE coaching, especially high school age players. I have always wanted to coach to give players a coaching experience and support that I never got as a player. I strive for my players to grow on and off the field, which is why I love coaching high school age players. I find this to be an extremely important part of their development as athletes and women, so with most coaches being men who don't understand women at this age, this is often when they decide to quit soccer.
I hope to help young female athletes grow into strong, independent young women and athletes, to set them up for success both on and off the field. Due to my pro soccer career, I am unable to coach teams right now as I cannot be reliable, but I look forward to coaching in the future. I also strive to find ways to educate coaches on how to talk to players, create professional relationships, and treat players with the same respect they would expect as coaches. This is lacking greatly in sports for both genders, but is something that should be taught just as much as how to coach the game itself.
3. What are your passions outside of soccer?
I have quite a few passions outside of soccer. My family is a big passion of mine. My husband and our dogs are my world and I would do anything for them. I am very close with my parents, who have been a huge support system in my life and career. My other passions include music, as I am classically trained on the piano, am a singer-songwriter, and hope to learn many more instruments over the years.
I am also very passionate about modeling, which is something I invested a lot of time in during my break from soccer. This passion for modeling transitioned into one of my new businesses, which is my own swimwear line. It is only in the beginning stages, but I have plans for it to grow indefinitely and branch out beyond swimwear.
I’m also passionate about health and wellness, which is where my personal training career began and other business ideas I have been working towards. I am very passionate about nature, animals, and sustainability as well. I strive to have a small farm with my husband and am working towards living off the land, raising a family, and getting back to the roots of being human inside such a tech focused world!
2. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about the game of soccer (or the game of life!)?
Confidence in yourself is everything. Not just performance based confidence when everything is going right, but genuine, unbreakable confidence in yourself no matter if you are in a rut or on top of your game. This also spreads into learning the balance of having a tough skin and strong mind, but learning when an environment is toxic and not benefiting you as a person or player. We are often taught to push through tough situations, suck it up when a coach is screaming at us, or ignore teammates that are bullying you, but this is not healthy. While I typically removed myself from situations that affected my soccer career, I never left a toxic situation for my mental health.
It took me nearly two decades to learn that it's ok to leave a situation no matter how much you think you need to stick it out and stay there. There are plenty of moments to be tough, but when it is constantly affecting your mental health and happiness in life, leading you to begin disliking soccer or not wanting to go, it is time to go elsewhere. There are plenty of opportunities if you work hard and find them. Be strong but prioritize your mental health.
Lastly, get out in the world! Try new things, branch out beyond sports, and live in new places. Traveling to and living in other countries on my own to play soccer were amazing experiences. To learn different playing styles, experience different cultures, and grow through these experiences is something every person and player should try. Get out in the world and live!
1. What inspired you to want to be involved with IDA? What’s your go to IDA to wear?
Not only is soccer my biggest passion and a huge part of my life, but I have always been a huge advocate for improving women's sports and everything that falls under that umbrella. Women's sports is growing rapidly and we are still so far behind in simple things like the tools we use to play it. I have always worn youth cleats without understanding why I've never liked the way women's cleats feel. When I found out about IDA and the creation of cleats specifically made for women's feet to support us properly in our sport, I could not miss any chance to be a part of such a big movement.
I could not be more excited to be a part of something as groundbreaking as IDA and hope to spread the word to all female players, both youth and adult, to help them find cleats that are not only comfortable but will help improve their game to the next level. I have never been more excited to be working with a brand and look forward to all that's to come as I know it is just the beginning!