Q&A With Mariam Azimi
Jan. 12, 2010
BERKELEY - The California women's soccer team was without the athletic prowess of sophomore forward Miriam Azimi, whose knee injury has kept her on the sidelines for all of the 2009 campaign. As a true freshman in 2008, Azimi saw action in 12 games, starting three, took nine shots and tallied an assist in the 2-2 double-overtime tie to Arizona State. A season away from soccer has given Azimi a great desire to return to the pitch, she notes. CalBears.com talked with the Sacramento, Calif., native to find out about her year, her athletic family and more.
CalBears.com: Your mom was a three-sport student-athlete at Sacramento State and your sister, Monique, played college hoops at Hampton - was playing a sport at the collegiate level always in the plan for you?
Mariam Azimi: Yes! Athletics was always a big part of my family when I was growing up. My parents made sure that I stayed focused not only in school but also in sports. They never pressured me to keep playing, and they were always very supportive of whatever I wanted to do. That said, the opportunity that soccer provided to get into a great school was greatly emphasized. When my parents and I realized that I had the talent to play at the collegiate level, it was a goal we wanted to achieve together.
CalBears.com: You're recovering from a knee injury - what has this season been like, watching from the bench? Did it make you more motivated to come back?
MA: This season for me has definitely been very tough. This is my first big injury that has kept me out of the game for so long, and I have never had any experience like it. This experience for me has been full of emotion and heartbreak, especially with the way our season has been going. There have been numerous instances where all I want to do is to be out on the field fighting for my sisters, but I can't. That feeling of helplessness is the very thing that sparks the fire to want to be back out on the field. It's incredibly difficult to have to be patient for this long. It was even harder because I had to watch two games a weekend and not be able to help my team out or play in them. But through it all, I believe I have built great strength and character. I am more than motivated to come back. I had lost sight of how much I truly loved the game until it was taken away.
CalBears.com: If you could make a cameo on any TV show, which one would you choose?
MA: If I could make an appearance on any TV show, I would hands down choose 'Deal or No Deal?'!
CalBears.com: You played varsity volleyball as a freshman at Saint Francis High School - what made you choose to go with soccer in college?
MA: Soccer has been my destiny since I started playing it at the age of four. Even though I enjoyed other sports such as volleyball, they still never compared to soccer, and I always came back to it. I would always say that I played soccer because it fit my personality. It's free flowing and your every move is decided by what you think is best at that specific point in the game. I love that there are no specific plays that have to be played. It is a game of art and uniqueness to me.
CalBears.com: If you could change your name, what would it be?
MA: I would never change my name. I like the fact that there aren't very many of me. But if I have to give an answer, I would change my name to my middle name which is Nauzie. And no, it is not pronounced as Nazi! It is pronounced nah-zee, and it means soft and delicate.
CalBears.com: What factors made you come to Cal?
MA: I am probably beating a dead horse when I say this, but most genuinely, the biggest factor that attracted me to Cal was the team. The Cal women's soccer team is like none other. It is literally a family of sisters when it really comes down to it. We are all willing to sacrifice and fight for each other. The minute I stepped in the presence of the team on my visits, I felt a sense of family and closeness that I never once felt when visiting other schools. Now that I am apart of it, I know that it will be an unforgettable experience that I will proudly take with me wherever I go. I knew on my very first visit that this is where I wanted to be. Another big factor for me was the environment. I wanted to stay in California, but SoCal is far too superficial for my liking. I love how Berkeley is less interested in the material belongings but is more focused on who we are as people.
CalBears.com: What is your favorite thing about playing soccer for California?
MA: My favorite thing about playing soccer for California is who the team that I am playing for is. Our team is full of loyal, strong, devoted, outspoken women, and I couldn't have asked to be a part of a better circle of women. Each and every one of us is so different in our own ways, and we balance each other out with each of our strengths. I smile every day, I feel uplifted every day, and I continue to be more confident in the woman I am becoming because of the women that surround me. I feel more than blessed to be able to say I play soccer for Cal.
CalBears.com: Alex Morgan, the last person to do a Q&A for CalBears.com, wanted the next women's soccer play to answer: If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live?
MA: I would live in Brazil. I have never been, but I heard it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. That, and I'm all about the waterfalls, beaches and scenery.
CalBears.com: What question would you like the next women's soccer student-athlete who does a Q&A to answer?
MA: What is the best meal (while being edible) that you can cook?
To read all of this season's Q&A with the Golden Bears, check out the archive here.