The latest edition of the Alumni Spotlight looks at former soccer player and assistant coach for the Knights, Diana Redman. The 2008 graduate of Queens College was a standout soccer player who parlayed that into an assistant coaching position with the Knights and then she continued her career as a member of the Israeli National Soccer Team. But, as she reflected on in a recent sit-down question and answer session, it was her time at Queens College that affected her career a great deal.
QC: How did you end up being on the Israeli National Team?
DR: It was a wonderful twist of events! Before I came to Queens College I was actually on a full scholarship at Rider University for track and field. I had put soccer on the back burner since high-school and focused on competing in national championships for heptathlon. I still remember my decision to quit back then: so many coaches called to try and convince me to continue playing (soccer) since I grew up in the ODP program and they had hopes of future National team play for me. But I quit, and assumed it was the end of my soccer journey.
However after my Freshman year at Rider, I wasn't completely satisfied and I decided to transfer. Unfortunately (and in hindsight now a wonderful mistake) my transfer to another big name college was fudged. We agreed that I'd simply spend a semester at Queens College and then transfer the following semester. But life had other plans. During my first semester at Queens, I just happened to pass by the soccer field and see the men's team training. I don't know why but I jumped in and started playing a bit. Little did I know, this was the moment my soccer career would be revived. So how does this tie into Israel? The coach of the women's team was Roby Young. (If you ask anyone in Israel if they know Roby, they'll call him a legend and one the greatest players). I had no idea at that time he'd be the most important person in my professional soccer career.
Eventually I decided to stay at Queens and after a few years of playing Roby found out not only was I Jewish but I had family born in Israel. At the end of my last semester he asked if I'd ever consider playing for the Israel National Team and of course I said yes. A few weeks later I was on a plane to Israel to begin playing with the Team. My unexpected enrollment in Queens College turned out to be the most important shift in my life. I'm beyond grateful to Roby Young and Queens College for pushing me towards representing Israel's National Team. It's a real honor.
QC: Related to that, how did your experience with the Queens College soccer team affect your decision to play overseas?
DR: The years I had with the QC soccer team were just wonderful. The girls I played with were really something special. I think because of their warmth and personality it was a perfect fit for me to ease back into soccer. It really was a nice family and perfect for me at the time. If I hadn't started playing at Queens College I never would have found my way to the Israel National Team.
QC: How did playing for (current head coach) Carl Christian help you hone your soccer skills?
DR: Carl was a great transition from Roby. When I started to play soccer again in college I spent a lot of time playing pickups at East River Park, Pier 40, Chrystie Street, and other places in the city, so I was in a sort of honeymoon phase of getting back into playing. I played EVERY weekend for almost 6 hours a day along with weekday training. I felt like a little kid again. It was wonderful. Carl was really influential in honing in that feeling and helping me get back into a more professional and structured mind set without losing that free spirit. He has a very professional attitude and thoughtful way of coaching which really helped me stay on track. He's the kind of coach you can rely on for more than just soccer, and for me at the time it was very crucial. He also encouraged me to play with the Lady Rough Riders for a few seasons during college.
QC: What leadership skills did you learn on and off the pitch at QC that you took with you after you finished college?
DR: My leadership skills definitely traveled with me overseas. Anyone who knows me understands that I like to work hard, set positive goals, and lead through example. Coming into Israel I did my best to lead through example and playing to the best of my ability. It was an interesting transition at first, especially since I dove straight in without testing the waters.
QC: What was your Major at QC and what have you done related to that since?
DR: At Queens College I completed two Bachelor’s, one in English and another in Social Work. Furthermore, I earned a Masters of Fine Art in English writing. When I left for Israel, I continued my education and completed my MSW with a concentration in Crisis and Trauma at Tel Aviv University. I worked in Israel as a social worker and now that I've come back to the USA I plan on continuing in the field. I focus mostly on using sports as a form of therapy. I really like working with younger kids.
Currently I'm working with Manhattan Youth in their sports programs. They're a really great organization. In the near future I plan on continuing with my PhD. and focusing on effects of war/terrorism on professional athletes, media, and professional clubs/leagues throughout the Middle East. But in the meantime; I'm still playing soccer! I just signed with Pale Blues in California and I'm incredibly excited to start the 2013 USA season with them.
QC: Have you been back to campus lately?
DR: I just recently went back to meet with Carl after being overseas for nearly six years. I've been talking with current and former players about opportunities to play abroad in Europe and in Israel. It felt really good to be back on campus. I'm really fortunate to have had such a positive and growing experience during those years. Queens College really shifted my entire path to something so positive and enriching. I can't imagine where I would be if I hadn't stepped foot on campus.
QC: Any specific memories from your time with the team?
DR: I have great memories of our preseason camps. We would go up north and stay in cabins together. The entire team together all the time at a campsite with no phone service led to some very funny evenings. It's a great bonding experience and a tradition with the team. Everyone would dread waking up at 5:45 to start three a day training but by the end of the week we were having a blast. It's a sweet memory.
QC: How would you summarize what you learned at Queens College?
DR: Queens College taught me real self confidence. I don't mean simply just believing in myself because mommy or daddy thinks I'm special. There's something real and tangible in the way Queens College molded me. There is a feeling on campus, from the staff, students, and players that we aren't living in a college bubble: that we are all working hard not only to better our education but to also better our families and communities.
I felt as if I was being given useful life tools that go beyond simple college structure. In terms of athletics, it really sets a great standard that your playing career doesn't have to end simply because you didn't go to a top five Division I soccer school.