Courtney Petersen (2015-19) appeared in 78 matches and was a starter for much of her career with the Cavaliers that included a season off as she competed for the US as part of the U20 Youth National Team in the 2016 U20 Women’s World Cup. She was a first-round draft pick of the Orlando Pride in January. Petersen made the start this past weekend in her first appearance for the Orlando Pride as her squad played the defending NWSL Champion North Carolina Courage to a scoreless draw in the NWSL Fall Series. In this Catching Up With Hoos In the Pros, Petersen reflects on her career with the Cavaliers and her time as a student-athlete at Virginia.

Q: What made you choose Virginia as the place for you for your collegiate career?

PETERSEN: To play at a top soccer school and get a great education was the main reason I chose Virginia, but I also knew if I wanted to play at the next level this was the school that was going to develop me into the player that would make it at the next level.

Q: If you could go back and relive one game from your time at Virginia (a win OR a loss), which game would you choose to go back and play again and why?

PETERSEN: I would choose the game against FSU in my senior season. That game was just a fun one to play in. Was high level and really just had a great environment and atmosphere. And getting the win in OT really was a thrilling feeling.

Q: How did your experience at Virginia prepare you to compete at the next level?

PETERSEN: My experience at Virginia really prepared me for the next level. I was tested on and off the field, so not only did Virginia shape me as a player it also shaped me as a person. It taught me to always believe in myself no matter what because I was there for a reason, and that is something I am taking with me into the Pro level.

Q: What would you say is the best piece of life advice you received and how have you been able to apply it to your approach to sports?

PETERSEN: The best advice I have received was from my mom. Telling me that so many people can believe in you, but if you do not believe in yourself nothing else matters. And I think I have been able to find a way to believe in my abilities and who I am as a player over my years of playing soccer to really just focus on believing in myself because once I was able to do that I would say my game really took off in a positive way.

Q: What aspect of playing soccer collegiately do you look back on and miss that you don’t think you realized you would miss or appreciate while you were actively in the moment?

PETERSEN: I miss just the idea of always being around my teammates. I think that’s something I didn’t really think I would miss. But to always be connected and having strong relationships is something I miss.

Q: What is your favorite place on Grounds and what do you miss about being on Grounds?

PETERSEN: My favorite place on grounds would be the amphitheater, and just sitting on the steps before class and relaxing. I miss being able to walk to class and look at how beautiful Grounds actually is, and just being around people.

Q: What advice would you share with your younger self if you had the opportunity to impart some wisdom you have learned over the years?

PETERSEN: Honestly, I would tell myself to enjoy every moment because you never know when something is going to come to an end. So just to really embrace and enjoy every moment in everything I was doing.

Q: If you had to choose one intrinsic quality that allowed you to get to where you are today…What would that be and why?

PETERSEN: I think my intrinsic quality would be my ability to never back down from a challenge. Always embracing challenges head on and finding a way to overcome them. That has definitely been something that has helped me get to where I am today because I have been faced with a lot of challenges along the way. And it could have been easy for me to find the easy way out, but i never chose that path and always stuck with it, and it has made me a lot stronger today. And I am going to be challenged a lot more as it is my first season in the NWSL, and I am going to need to find a way to overcome them.