Driven for success

It seems lately that sports has become all about numbers. It has become a numbers driven world and athletes sometimes get caught in it. A player could have great career, but the numbers might not add up.

Maybe they had a bunch of loses, or those goals against was high. But, if the casual fan would put down the box score and watch the players play, they would have a better appreciation of what they are going through.

Maybe they weren’t on a solid club. Maybe they lead the league in saves. I mean after all if you face a ton of shots you are bound to make a few key saves. Watching the game from the stands just gives everyone a better outlook on the grind a player goes through day in and day out.

If one would look up the career of former Canisius College goalkeeper Megan Tock you see some stats that would be eye popping. You see the losses at 27 and a goals against average close to 2.00.

But, if you look deeper into Tock’s play, you would see that she kept the Griffs in a lot of games throughout her career. Her senior year alone she was ranked in the top 10 nationally in saves. In a stat driven world Tock you could said had a rough career. In a watching the game live world, Tock showed the rest of the country just how good she was.

“What a way to describe it "rough." Maybe if you were looking at straight wins and losses, but saves wise my senior year I was top 10 nationally on saves on the season (at I think 127? Not to brag.) But playing for Canisius taught me a lot about myself,” explained Tock. “Up until then, I had always played for teams that won and won with ease. I was really rarely tested. Ultimately it made me stronger mentally. It was frustrating playing for a team where I would make 10+ saves a game but still come up short. It broke me down a few times, but it made me more resilient because I couldn't give up. I loved my team. It made me realize that wins aren't handed to you, you have to work for it. At the end of the day, I am happy about my choice to attend and play for Canisius. If I hadn't moved to Buffalo and played for Canisius, I probably wouldn't be playing for the WNY Flash today, so for that I am grateful.”

Tock could have easily given up on her career if she was that kind of person. But, thankfully, Tock has a different kind of midst than most. She goes into everything with full vigor. Tock makes she goes all the way and doesn’t do it half. It’s probably why she can’t give up on this game that has given her so much.

A young 26-years of age, Tock has already been playing the game she loves for 20 years. For 20 years she had laid her body on the line for teammates. For 20 years she has given it her all every single game.

But, there was a brief exodus from the game. Tock took a year away from the game, and like most athletes who leave she realized she needed it in her life. She need to be around the players. She needed to be around the competitiveness. She needed to be around the game that has given her so much.

“It's crazy to think that I have been playing soccer for more than 20 years now. Makes me feel really old. What keeps me going is the love I have for the game. It's almost to the point where I would go as far as to say I need it in my life. I took about a year off from playing after I finished my college career at Canisius, and I have to admit I felt a void. I wasn't happy. I then got into to coaching which I found a passion for and more importantly I started playing again,” explained Tock. “I joke now that I'll keep playing until my legs fall off. It's funny, I remember this exact moment over a year ago; it was the first game of the season in 2017 in Long Island. It was a heavy rain and under 40 degrees which no one prepared for because it was mid May. In all my years of playing it was the coldest game I had ever played in. About halfway through the first half I thought to myself, "I chose to be here." Meaning, I'm not in college anymore where I'm tied to a scholarship or in high school playing club soccer in which my parents paid thousands of dollars for. No, I chose to play for this team, I chose to get in a van at 5 am and ride seven hours to play a 90 minute soccer game. I could have easily stayed home and done a million other things people my age do on the weekends, but I chose to commit my time and do this and honestly there's no place I would have rather been.”

Tock has had a very fortunate career so far. A few back, Tock was in the right place at the right time. The Flash, who played in the NPSL, were down keepers and called on Tock to fill in . The hard work she put in during her career was finally going to pay off as she was going to make her professional debut.

It was something that only happens in the movie. She was in the right place at the right time. She had a chance to do something only others could dream off.

“I feel like it's a dream for anyone playing the sport, right? It's crazy the situation a few years ago where I was literally in the right place in the right time to be able to say "I played pro.” Even cooler than that, I've trained with girls on several different national teams, including USA, Canada, England, Australia and more,” stated Tock. “I think if I were a bit more focused in college, who knows where I would have ended up. That's my advice to any college athlete, focus and put everything you have into every practice, training session or game because four years goes by extremely fast.”

Time sure does fly by when you are having fun. And no one knows that better than Tock. With the Flash selling its team know one knew what was going to happen in Western New York in regard to soccer.

But, the void was quickly taken with the UWS team. The team, and league, is made of college, high school,or college players looking to keep the fire burning, With the team getting ready for its first last year a roster needed to be filled out. The first name on that list was Tock.

“When the Flash announced they were going to have a UWS team, I was unsure what the team would be like, the level of play, and more importantly if I would be able to work full time and still commit to a team,” stated Tock. “I joke that I call myself a "corporate athlete" seeing as by day I am in sales and wear heels and blazers, and on nights and weekends it's soccer shorts and pre-wrap. I've able to find a good balance between work and play. I'm so grateful to have this opportunity to play competitively still. Although, I find myself constantly telling my friends "I can't, I have soccer" but like I mentioned before, I love it.”

While she loves the sport, her body might not. Twenty years of diving on the ground - making sprawling saves - has taken a toll on her. Tock has those days where it’s not as easy to get up in the morning as others.

She has paid the price for a great career for so far. Some would see it as why put your body through it? Tock smiles and just says how much she loves the sport.

“Let me tell you as a goalkeeper; the ground is MUCH harder at 26 years old than 16. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self the importance of stretching and cooling down because I definitely feel it nowadays,” she said. “I’m a big supplement girl now, do research and take whats best for recovery for muscle and joints. (I can't believe I'm admitting that.) But I've also found a love for weight lifting fairly recently. When I was younger, I never enjoyed doing any sort of fitness or lifting, I relied solely on my athleticism. Now I truly see a value in both, and can see it translate over to my game. I feel like I am in the best shape of my life right now at 26 years old.”

If there is one thing you can tell is that Tock loves being a keeper. She loves being the last line of defense. She loves the fact that the game is riding on her every move and save. Not many players have the mental fortitude to play the position.

Tock had it at a young age. At an age when everyone was taking their turns on goal, Tock was the one tacking a few extra turns. And, I guess it paid off.

“As insane as it sounds I enjoy the pressure of being a goalkeeper, last line of defense and organizing and directing the team from all the way back in the net,” stated Tock. “Not to mention you wear a completely different jersey than everyone else, I guess you could say I like the attention.”

And she also loves making the big save. Something that she has done many times during her career. People remember when Gigi Buffon stop a penalty. There was a reason why they call Gigi one of the best keepers every to play the position. He made the big save when he needed to.

Tock knows how to rise to the occasion. She is ready to lead her team on the field.

“There's really nothing like it. The best saves are the ones you feel your body hang in the air for what feels like forever and you come down knowing you saved it and you're surprised you got to it,” she explains. “The adrenaline rush is unmatched, probably my favorite feeling in the entire world. Hearing the reaction from your teammates after is so uplifting too, hoping that there is some sort of momentum shift or morale boost having your team know they can count on you ti get the job done.”