Zoey Goralski’s hard work led her to living the dream of playing for the Chicago Red Stars

After starring at UCLA, Zoey Goralski was drafted by the Chicago Red Stars in 2018 and would start off playing for the Red Stars Reserves. During the 2019 NWSL season, she broke into the first team and made her debut. Now, in her third season with the first team, she’s able to reflect on how she got to where she is.

“Looking back from where I started with the reserves to where I am now, I am so grateful to see how all my hard work led me to my dreams,” Zoey told BGN. “While trying to break into the first team, it seemed so daunting, and honestly, I thought it would never happen. But to young players that are in similar situations, keep on working through the tough times. Perseverance really does pay off.”

The Red Stars have played three matches so far in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup with two draws and one loss. Chicago’s final Challenge Cup match is scheduled for tomorrow in Tacoma vs. OL Reign (live on Paramount+). Following the conclusion of the Challenge Cup, the NWSL will kick off the regular season schedule in mid-May. “NWSL fans can expect an action-packed season for 2021,” Goralski said. “After the weirdness of 2020, not only (are) the Red Stars excited to play games, but I think the entirety of the NWSL.”

“The 2020 Challenge Cup gave us a good outlet from all the crazy from that year, but I think having way more games this year will give us way more opportunity to show everyone how much grit the Red Stars really have.”

Ahead of the full slate of matches in 2021, Goralski worked hard to improve going into her third season with the first team. She explained, “This offseason I have really been focusing on improving the mental aspects of my game. Maintaining composure on the field has long been a struggle of mine, and meditation and yoga have really helped. I know have made meditation part of my daily routine.”

A native of Naperville, Illinois, breaking into the first team has allowed Zoey to play for her hometown club. “As cliche as it sounds, being from Naperville and also being able to represent my hometown is a dream come true,” she said. “It lets me feel like I’m able to give back to the place that developed me into the soccer player and person I am today!”

Growing up nearby where she plays professional soccer now, Goralski has you covered on an itinerary if you visit the Windy City. She said, “For those coming to Chicago post-pandemic, I would definitely go to the Lincoln Park Zoo, get on the architecture boat tour, and eat at all the amazing restaurants! Personally, I think the food is the best part of Chicago. My go-to deep dish is at Lou’s with sausage.”

While Zoey can definitely point you in the right direction for a great slice, she may not be the expert you’re looking for on desserts. “During the pandemic, my roommates and I got into a lot of shows to pass the time and our favorite was the Great British Baking Show,” Zoey said. “My roommate, Emily Boyd, would do amazing on the show, she bakes all the time.”

“I think I would be pretty tragic on the show though. I don’t have the best track record with not burning things, and the decorating they do on that show is way out of my league.”

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.