COLUMBIA, Mo (KMIZ)
Everybody dreams of being something when they are younger: a firefighter, a pop star, or, in some cases, a professional athlete. But, Missouri soccer alum Sarah Luebbert never really had just one dream.
"I was never, honestly, dead set on becoming a professional soccer player," she said. "It was just like, I'm going to set a goal and then once I achieve that goal, then what's my next goal."
Once Luebbert finished school at the University of Missouri on May 15, her next goal was pretty clear.
"I got a call from the assistant coach with the Red Stars, inviting me to their preseason training camp," she said.
From there, the rest is history. The Chicago Red Stars later told Luebbert that she would officially be joining the squad.
The forward signed a two-year contract with the club.
"It, phew, it was honestly indescribable," she said
Missouri soccer coach Bryan Blitz said he found out a little bit before Luebbert even knew herself.
"I probably knew it before her, you know. I speak to the coaches behind the scenes, one way or the other," he said. "So I let her tell me. It's her time."
She finished her career at Mizzou with 29 goals, eight of which were game winning. She also notched 21 assists and 79 points, which ranks 10th in the program.
Blitz said Luebbert's journey at Mizzou did not come without its struggles.
"Everything went perfect for her, as a freshman," he said.
But he said her sophomore year is where she grew the most, when she wasn't exactly perfect.
"It was hard to deal with all the pressure, local kid, and you saw it affect her," Blitz said.
Despite the challenges, he said that he made sure Luebbert used the experience as a learning opportunity.
“What we talk about is, would you ever tell somebody on the field, hey you suck and she was like no way the would hurt their feelings, so I’m like, why tell yourself that. You have to be your own best advocate," he said.
Blitz said Luebbert is a person you could can on both on and off the field.
"I think off the field, she's the nicest human ever. She'll do anything for anybody," he said. "But when she's on the field she's cut throat and you have to be cut throat. There can't be any feelings involved. She's a great teammate, but for her, she's a warrior on the field."
She says her former teammates and coach helped her in her journey to the pros.
"I can't thank Coach Blitz enough," Luebbert said. "Now that I'm here training with the team, a lot of the stuff that he would have us do during training sessions is similar to what we do here. He was always really hard on all of us, which I liked because you just need to hear that hard criticism."
The Chicago Stars had their first game of the season on Saturday night in front of an empty stadium. While, Luebbert said it's a strange way to begin her career, she's making the most of it.
“It’s really quiet, we had our first game last night and I didn’t get to play, but us as a bench we’re trying to be really loud and bring the energy.”
That bench is also looking to bring energy to a couple of U.S. Women's National Team alums.
Alyssa Naeher and Julie Ertz are both on the Red Stars roster and Luebbert said she never quite dreamed she would be with them.
"I mean last year I was watching them win the World Cup," she said. "I was not thinking I would be eating lunch with them on a daily basis now."
The Jefferson City native said she still has a lot to learn from her new teammates.
"Just getting to watch them train and seeing the worth ethic, you know, they are the hardest working people on the field all the time," she said. "I know I still have so much to learn from them, but it's a really cool experience to be able to play with them.
Luebbert said her next goal is to find her role on the team and settle into it, so she can make her own impact on the game like she always has.