As a professional soccer player, Rachel Quon is proving that women can pursue their passions and make a living doing it.
Now in her second year with the Chicago Red Stars, Rachel is on top of her game and loving every minute.
Growing up in Lake Forest, Rachel started her soccer career with AYSO and then moved to the Lake Forest Soccer Association, a local travel club team. “I played a bunch of different sports, but soccer was a fun one for me,” Rachel says. “I am still friends with all the people from my first club team.”
Rachel excelled at the sport, scoring 40 goals in her three seasons at Lake Forest High School, and was named both Illinois State Player of the Year and National Gatorade High School Player of the Year. She also played with the Elite Select Soccer Program, a top-level travel club team. One of the top 2009 college recruits, she ultimately chose Stanford University, earning accolades from PAC-10 All-Freshman to NSCAA first-team All-American her senior year.
A torn ACL and broken collarbone suffered during high school taught her the importance of conditioning. “It’s all about maintaining your strength,” she says. “If you are injured, be strong enough to say you need to sit out. Don’t push it. You have to listen to your body and be smart about it.”
Nutrition also plays a big role in her preparation. “What I eat is super important. I get to eat at home, where my mom cooks healthy food. Fueling your body correctly is key— that’s what you are running off of.”
Energy is something that Rachel has in abundance, which came in handy at the academically rigorous Stanford. She found the correct balance of schoolwork and soccer through active time management, and the faculty was supportive and flexible. More importantly, her teammates truly valued academics.
Playing soccer for the Red Stars is a dream come true for Rachel. “I get to do something I love and get paid for it,” she says. “I get to challenge myself every day to be a better soccer player… and [we are] inspiring young girls, showing [them] that women can be professional athletes.” Now in its second season, there are significant challenges—limited resources, a lengthy off-season—but the National Women’s Soccer League is working hard to make it a sustainable model.
The Red Stars truly values its fans, who love the up-close, on-field seating at Benedictine University in Lisle, and the photo ops and autographs after the game. The players also host the Red Stars Academy, a youth summer soccer program with locations in Libertyville, Naperville and Schaumburg.
Rachel finds other opportunities to give back to the community she loves through a foundation her family established in her late brother’s memory. This summer, she will be providing soccer coaching and equipment for Beacon Place, a nonprofit that provides programs designed to “bridge education and community needs” for at-risk children and families in Waukegan.
The Chicago Red Stars feels like home to Rachel, who is proud of their can-do spirit. “Our team will never quit until the final whistle…whether winning or losing, we will fight to the end,” she says. “Team sports have taught me how to work with others. It’s about the journey and the process. I am so grateful for the travel and the opportunity to meet so many different people through soccer.”