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Sarina Coutin: Rediscovering her passion

COC forward Coutin is learning to love soccer again after success nearly drove her away

Posted: October 25, 2009 11:01 p.m.
Updated: October 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons sophomore forward Sarina Coutin left Hart as the Santa Clarita Valley's all-time leading goal scorer. But that success brought pressure that almost drove her away from soccer.

 
It got to the point where she hated to see her name in the newspaper.

But her name had to be in the newspaper.

After all, she became the Santa Clarita Valley’s all-time leading prep soccer goal scorer — male or female.

But the recognition eventually coupled with resentment.

Sarina Coutin has moved forward.

Though she has done it quietly.

Since graduating from Hart High in 2008 and having scored 104 goals for the girls soccer team, Coutin has grown from life experiences.

She spent a year playing NCAA Division I soccer at Cal State Bakersfield.

She nearly quit the game that put her on the map.

Now she is at College of the Canyons, in some ways resurrecting a passion for the sport.

It was last February and even times during her senior year at Hart when thoughts of leaving the sport behind kicked around in Coutin’s head.

“Senior year, I had a lot of pressure, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to play, but I did. I pushed through,” Coutin says.

Her high school soccer career was full of highlights.

But Coutin says she received criticism from others who felt she was getting too much attention.

“I honestly hated being in the paper because of the resentment I got from people,” she says. “It’s not who I am.”

She later says: “I think I was overrated.”

Going to Bakersfield was seemingly an escape from the attention.

She would play with and against others who were high school soccer stars in their own right.

“It was good to start fresh,” Coutin says.

Coutin played in 19 games, starting 10 of them as a true freshman.

She switched from her natural forward position to midfielder and scored two goals.

But she never got comfortable.

“It was definitely a tough experience,” Coutin says. “I feel like I can get through anything. But it was definitely fun playing Division I soccer and getting that experience. But I realized I wanted to go a different path.”

Coutin says she loved her teammates, but it was difficult for her being away from home.

When she left Bakersfield, her soccer career was in limbo.

“I heard through the grapevine she was leaving Cal State Bakersfield,” says College of the Canyons first-year head coach Justin Lundin. “I wanted to see what her plans were and meet with her, get her to play at COC.”

Coutin says this season has been up and down.

She has battled leg and back injuries all season.

Coutin has five goals for COC and the Cougars are 5-6-4.

But she’s home.

“Yeah, it looked like I went from a Division I school to COC, but at least I’m playing,” she says.

She credits Lundin for helping her on the field and off.

Coutin says the coach has listened to her and been a counselor of sorts.

She just wishes more local athletes would come and play for the program, which has not had a winning season since 2005.

Lundin says he doesn’t know why Coutin has given him so much credit.

“She has expressed that she’s enjoying the game again,” Lundin says. “It’s not a job. If you don’t enjoy playing a sport, there’s really nothing to hold you there. I’m just glad she’s enjoyed playing again.

“Obviously she’s a very talented and gifted soccer player. Her drive and competitiveness is kind of unmatched.”

There’s a bigger reason for Coutin’s return to the Santa Clarita Valley and her renewed passion, though.

“God,” she says. “I was meant to come home and find a new path and strengthen my relationship with God.”

Coutin says through the hard times, she has recently strengthened her faith.

It has helped her.

Soccer, she says, is not her No. 1 priority.

God, education, friends and family come first.

Yet her soccer experience has helped her grow as a person.

She still is not comfortable with her name being in the newspaper, but it was part of that experience.

And she learned a lot about life.

“Soccer has not only made me a better competitor and better athlete, it’s the No. 1 thing that’s made my character,” Coutin says. “It has taught me so much about myself, how I relate to people. I can apply it to jobs, to school and work and relationships, working with people."

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