Women's Soccer Q&A: Brooke Zenner

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Brooke Zenner, a sophomore for the Pepperdine's women's soccer team, reflects on her team's Spring Break trip to Costa Rica and how she felt playing soccer and learning about the culture:

Brooke  Zenner

Q: You and the soccer team went to Costa Rica for spring break. What did you do there?

A: We were super lucky to have the opportunity to go to Costa Rica. We thought we were going to play a lot of soccer but ended up only playing two games, which were very cool experiences since we got to see how teams from another country got to play. We even got to come together with them after. We also did work with a school there called Los Gallitos. This was one of the highlights for me since we were working with children who do not really have the best home life. They go through a really detailed interview process to decide what children go there where they choose the children who need the most help. It was very eye-opening to see what they are going through and we got to hang out and play with them.

Q: What work did you do with the children?

A: We went to their school and they had an outdoor play area so half of us were outside with the older kids and the other half of us were inside with the babies and the infants. We mainly just gave them all our attention and spent the day with them.

Q: Where did you go within Costa Rica?

A: There are a lot of different provinces in Costa Rica but we flew into Guanacaste. This is the part with more beaches, which is where we stayed. We then drove to the capital of Costa Rica, San José, where we got to stay downtown, which was cool. It was really cool to see the differences in areas around Costa Rica; from the Caribbean side, the more agriculture side, then the downtown area.

Q: What else did you do for the mission part of trip while there?

A: We also put on a soccer clinic in San José. There were like a hundred children who came during their PE period or recess time. We basically just played games with them and taught them a little even though they all already knew how to play since soccer is so big down there. It was very fun to love on the kids and just give them attention and enjoy our time.

Q: How did you feel you impacted them or they impacted you?

A: It was definitely a two-way street. We always say how we went to make an impact but we came away with them impacting us. I think it was very eye opening to get out of the Pepperdine bubble and to be able to go to a different country and see that they aren't that different from us and we all love the game of soccer. I also want to be a teacher so it was really special for me to see lots of opportunities to teach abroad. Overall, I think we left an impact of love on them and showed them what Pepperdine is about, but they definitely left a bigger imprint on us.

Q: What other activities did you do while there?

A: We went zip lining while we were there, which was super fun but kind of scary since you had to rock climb in-between zip lines. Some of us were freaking out! We also got to go on a catamaran where we got to go snorkeling and just hang out on the boat. One of the excursion highlights was a waterfall nature hike that was also a zoo in the rainforest part of Costa Rica. The animals were all exotic animals that used to be illegally owned as pets. We saw cute monkeys and cheetahs and not to mention these four gorgeous waterfalls, which was really cool since when I think of Costa Rica, I think of the rain forest part.

Q: What food did you eat?

A: The food was so good! Every day we would have rice, chicken and beef, especially at a buffet where we ate so much. At this restaurant in San José we had the most delicious empanadas, rice, chicken and chips.

Q: What soccer teams did you play and what differences did you see?

A: We played against Saprissa and Liberia. The first team we played said we played a lot more by position, where they play more fluid and will move around more. But there are pretty much the same principles of trying to pass more, which was cool to see that there are similarities from two different teams around the world.

Q: What did you get out of the trip?

A: I didn't really know what to expect going in. I just kept an open mind and to be ready for whatever. It turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life because we did so much. It was fun, yes, but more importantly we got to see and learn about a different country and culture. For me the highlight was working with the kids both at soccer and at the school. It is always very eye opening when I travel. We also didn't have our phones, which was actually nice because we were able to disconnect and connect with the team.

Q: Do you have any other takeaways from this experience?

A: It was one of the best weeks of my life. My biggest takeaway is how grateful my whole team was to get such a cool opportunity and experience that not a lot of people get.

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