Virginia Lingo protects the ball. Photo by Chris Crews

There are three key components that make up a star college athlete. Motivation, mental toughness and work ethic. There are hundreds of thousands of amazing athletes around the country, yet only a small percentage get to go the distance and play in college. Why? Because it takes a certain passion to be able to push your body to its limit day in and day out. For Charlotte women’s soccer star Virginia Lingo this sort of work ethic and drive has been with her for a while.

“I started playing when I was three years old, I played cause I got ice cream after every game in the YMCA,” said Lingo.

Things change, people change and feelings change too. I’m sure Lingo still loves ice cream but as far as her drive to be a great athlete, the soft serve does not do it for her. Lingo began taking her soccer career more seriously when she got to high school. As recruitment letters began coming in she realized that she would have to buckle down to make an impact on the next level. It’s easier to do things that you love.

“Definitely in high school probably freshmen year when I realized that I wanted to play in college plus the recruiting Made it more serious and helped me lock-in to that,” Lingo said.

The mental toughness to balance a work load like that is not something for the weak at heart. College athletes have multiple practices a day, the homework that everyone deals with and of course a social life that we all desire to have. In high school sports are recreation and everyone gets a turn. It is barely a commitment and more of an extracurricular for fun with friends, but in college you work to earn a spot and could easily lose it if you aren’t performing.

“Soccer is a lot more like a job in college, I get yelled at lot more,” Lingo said. “But I do love soccer so I carve out time for school and extra practice. I’m taking 18 hours right now so it can be a lot, but it’s not too bad.”

Luckily for Lingo, her younger years as an honor-roll student taught her time management and gave her an edge in learning to balance the college work load. Lingo prides herself in being able to create time to get work done. She also played for her high school and a club soccer teams, so going to multiple practices in a day was not new to her.

“Having high school and club practices definitely helped get me ready for the next level, being used to carving out extra time and knowing when to practice late at night or study in the mornings or vice versa and just being able to be flexible,” Lingo said.

There is an timeless lesson to be learned from the efforts of Lingo. Hard work and consistency will always pay off and it beats natural talent every time. Nearly twenty years of soccer experience has put Lingo in a position to go play soccer after graduation. She has been recruited by the Charlotte Lady Eagles, a mission organization that plays in an elite league against teams across the country. Lingo is also driven by her faith. She has a deep reverence for God and to have an opportunity to play after college for a team that combines her passion for soccer with her passion to serve the Lord is a dream come true.

“They used to be semi-pro now they’re a ministry team, so it’ll be fun. A lot of different college players play during the summer and go on big trips, it’s really cool it’s for around two months. I thought about playing in Australia for a time but I don’t know if I’m going to do that or not,” Lingo said.

Lingo recorded her first goal of the season earlier this month against VCU and we can only expect more goals and greatness from the graduating senior.

“It’s gonna be a good season we started off playing some really good teams so I think that prepared us more for the back end of the season,” Lingo said.  “I think it’s gonna be good I think that we can place high again and win the conference tournament again.”