This week’s guest recently picked playing for a soccer Developmental Academy over her school team despite being one of the best players in the state and scoring a goal in every game she played as a sophomore last season.
Please sit back and relax as the McKinney Courier Gazette sports editor Kendrick E. Johnson shines the Sunday Spotlight on McKinney North junior Alexa
Give some insight into the decision you made to quit playing for the McKinney North soccer team so that you can focus being a part of the academy soccer program?
Bezpalko: When I came to McKinney North my freshman year, high school soccer was the most exciting thing I had on my plate at the time. I have grown so close to the girls and coaches I called my family and made so many memories over the past two years.
When the season began this year I wasn’t expecting that I would have the opportunity to even go , Developmental Academy though it was a dream I had set for myself, the realization it was now an option was the happiest moment of my life. Developmental Academy is a very competitive league and when I was told I would not be able to play high school soccer as a DA player it really took a toll on me emotionally. I had to make such a drastic decision that would affect my life. I had to take into consideration what will benefit me and my future in the long run. Although it was hard to tell my family at North I was leaving, I couldn’t have picked a better option that would help me reach my goals for the future.
What do miss most about playing for the McKinney North soccer program?
Bezpalko: I started the year off working with McKinney North soccer and even played in one game with them so it was exciting being able to play with them one last time, but leaving the team made me lose seeing my best friends every day. If there’s one thing I miss it’s the people, the family, the girls I call sisters.
It has been hard because I have just missed out on the fun they have together, the celebrations after winning and the bus rides home singing. It isn’t just that, but you normally don’t have classes with your soccer friends and you usually only see them during the class period you practice, so It’s hard to keep in touch. The day I told the girls, we went into the locker room and I told them what had happened and how this team is going to benefit me in so many ways and how hard it was to leave them, but they were so supportive and understanding and that’s what I miss most, the constant support and love they gave me.
How special was it for you to play with your sister and on a team, which won district and made a playoff run last season?
Bezpalko: Last year we were district champs, we made a playoff run and it was the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever had. Being named Offensive Player of the year, and first-team all-district, I thought that was a great accomplishment as a sophomore and I must give a lot of credit to Coach [Lance] Lovell for believing in me.
Our team last year was beyond amazing and I made lifelong friends from that experience, but one most of all was my sister. I’ve played with my sister my whole life from recreational soccer to high school soccer, and you honestly couldn’t ask for anything better than playing with your best friend.
We have our moments like most sister’s, but I may have never shared with her how much it meant to me to play with her. I loved playing with my sister but then she was injured in a game and she was unable to play the rest of the year.
My sister Madision, would always cheer for me and was always supportive and even now. We made memories together that we can look back on later in life. It was difficult losing in the second round of the playoffs especially with so little time left in the game.
We had the ability to go deeper in the playoffs, but I will say this it was fun to play with the group we had and sad to see the seniors move on.
Who is your role model on and off the field and how has their guidance helped you get to this point in your career?
Bezpalko: My role model is me. If I didn’t push myself as much as I did, talk myself up after a bad game, or push for the things I want in life, I would not be where I am today.
What some people don’t know is I quit soccer for about 5 months. I hated soccer, I was burnt out from it and ended up playing volleyball. I had lost passion for the game that I loved, but playing a new sport and just hanging out with family and friends made me realize how much I missed the ball at my feet, the sound of my mom yelling at me when I was off sides, and my dad getting up and screaming whenever I was fouled.
I came back into soccer-loving the game more than I ever thought possible and it changed my life.
Which school is your dream college to play for and what schools have you received interest from so far in your recruiting process?
Bezpalko: Ever since I was little, I grew up loving LSU and A&M, and they are definitely at the highest on my list for being recruited. Over the years I’ve investigated other colleges like Texas State and Alabama which have both piqued my interest.
I’ve had conversations with Troy, Florida Southern and Northern Alabama. Though my D1 dream is big I keep my options open and look forward to whatever comes my way because I don’t care who I play for or if it is a big school, all I care about is playing the game I love with coaches and teammates who will support me on and off the field. As much as I love the game, just being able to go to college and continue playing is all that matters to me.
How much pressure do you put on yourself to be as productive in the classroom as you are on the soccer field?
Bezpalko: Balancing school and soccer can be very difficult especially being in AP classes, sometimes it just gets very exhausting. Since I’ve started practicing three nights a week it’s been harder to get work done, but overall, I’ve learned to be better with time management and have created a way to get it all done. I do put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything done because it’s important to me to have great grades and still pursue my sport.
I personally think it’s important to maintain good grades because colleges definitely look at that.
Who is your favorite soccer player and how much of their game have you added to yours?
Bezpalko: My favorite soccer player varies alot but someone I’ve always been so impressed by and have looked up to is Mia Hamm. I grew up decorating my room full of soccer decor and the only thing I wanted more than anything was a Mia Hamm banner. My dad got it for me, hung it on my wall and I honestly praised that banner, it inspired me daily. I looked up to Mia and followed her journey on YouTube from her college days in N.C. to The Olympics and The World Cup. She is most likely the most influential person in my soccer career and I’ve adapted her quote: “Somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back... play for her.” This has helped me grow to be a better soccer player. She helped create another side of me, someone who pushed her self and thrived to be the best, and hopefully, I’m getting there.
Where do you want to be in five years in your soccer career and what you want to do once you graduate from college?
Bezpalko: In five years my ideal place I want to be at in my life is playing my last year of college soccer, hearing my mom, dad, sisters, and friends cheering for me because of how hard I worked to get where I am. I want to be graduating with my Bachelor of Science in nursing and start making a life outside of soccer. But if I had the chance to play on a professional team that would be an absolute life-changer. To get the experience of being on a national team would be the best thing in the world and though it may be a while away there’s no time like now to start planning.