Why I Play: Northwestern women’s soccer senior goalie Mackenzie Wood shares the ‘exhilaration’ of playing soccer


Courtesy of Northwestern Athletics

Mackenzie Wood prepares to kick the ball down the field. Wood’s love for the game began as a seven-year-old playing soccer during recess.

Nicole Orejuela, Reporter

Women’s Soccer

Senior goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood sat down with The Daily to share her experiences as a soccer player, including her favorite win and her earliest memories of the sport. This story is an installment of the “Why I Play” series, where Wildcat athletes talk about why they love their sports and how they got their starts. 

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

 THE DAILY: What is your earliest memory of playing soccer? 

WOOD: Playing at recess when I was seven years old. I would always come home with dirt on my knees, and my parents were mad that my jeans were all dirty. I was just like, “Mom, Dad, I want to play soccer.”

THE DAILY: What is the first emotion that comes to mind when you think of soccer?

WOOD: When I think of soccer, I think of the exhilaration when I make a big save or have a huge win. It is such a cool feeling to have, and that is why I wanted to play pro. I just want to keep having the feeling over and over again.

THE DAILY: Is there any win that stands out to you in particular? 

WOOD: In college, it was Penn State my freshman year. The seniors from our team had never beaten Penn State before that game, and I was also a freshman, so I was like, “This is the biggest game I’ve probably ever played in.” We won 1–0, and I had some pretty good saves, so it was awesome to have the feeling that I helped my team win, helped our seniors get that win. I never forget that. I always go back to that game.

THE DAILY: Why do you love soccer?  

WOOD: Being on a team is a huge part of soccer. There are so many different pieces that it takes to have a good play or to score a goal. That’s really cool, because it’s kind of like putting together a puzzle. 

Off the field, it’s like a sisterhood. Our teammates are always there for you, always pushing you to the next level. Soccer, specifically, is a beautiful game.

THE DAILY: Is there anything you dislike about the sport?

WOOD: How women’s professional soccer, and women’s soccer in general, does not get as much support as it could. I was able to train with the Chicago Red Stars, the professional team. It was crazy going into that environment because people would get to the training and be like, “I just came from Dick’s Sporting Goods to work my job, and I have to go back after this training.”It’s crazy how much you have to put into soccer to be good, and yet they are not able to make a living off of it, so they have to go work somewhere else. 

THE DAILY: If you could give advice to an incoming freshman on the NU Women’s Soccer team, what would it be and why? 

WOOD: Enjoy every moment, because it goes fast. Also, you’re going to get out of it what you put in. Who you are every day is going to matter more than who you are once in a while. It’s up to you to put in that extra work, to make those relationships with your teammates, and honestly to be the person who you are and who you want to be. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Nic_Orejuela12

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