Daysi Serrano: Redefining Soccer Mom
An ex-police officer, mother of two, future nurse, student, and elite soccer player at Santa Monica College, Daysi Serrano has experienced aspects of life many college students can not even imagine.
Serrano first enrolled in Santa Monica College in 2012, two and a half years after graduating from high school. "[After graduating high school] I took a year off, and I had my son," Serrano said. "When I got here, my son was about two years old."
Serrano said she learned a lot from having a child, and knew that she had to push herself, never settling for anything less than the best.
"When you have a child, it's not just you anymore, you're responsible for somebody." Serrano said. "You have to try and give them the best, its not about you at this point, its giving them a future, setting examples, and I had to have a career for my son."
After her first year at SMC, Serrano resumed playing soccer, but soon faced an uphill battle. "After the season was over I planned to play soccer one more year, but I got injured during the Spring, I tore my ACL so I had to have surgery, this was in 2013." Serrano said.
But she did not let her injury slow her down. Instead, she used it as motivation, and kept working until she attained a memorable career for herself and her family.
"A couple months after my surgery, I applied for law enforcement, so I left school for a little bit, and I was a police officer for two and half years," Serrano said.
Serrano spent nearly three years as a police officer for Los Angeles Police Department where she worked in tense situations. When conducting a building check, Serrano led a group of officers into the building with their shotguns at ready position. "Everybody follows you," Serrano said, "so if something happens, you're the first one there."
About 16 months ago, Daysi had her second child, a daughter. Serrano said she had an incredible experience and fond memories while serving as a police officer, but decided she wanted something different. "I took a step back from law enforcement, it was very tough on family life, especially being a mom. I just didn't see myself doing that for 30 years, it wasn't really what I visioned myself doing for that long." she said.
So, she decided to take a different path, an unlikely one, but it led her back to SMC. When she enrolled back into school, the first person she reached out to was soccer coach Aaron Benditson.
Benditson served as SMC's soccer coach during Serrano's first stint at SMC where they created a lasting relationship. Coincidentally, he also returned to SMC, after leaving for Cal Poly Pomona for two years, where he served as an assistant soccer coach.
"During my first year at school, I was going through a bad relationship with no support system, my son was about two years old, and Aaron was there to mentor and give me advice and encourage me when times were very tough for me. There were times I would have to bring my son to games, I had nobody to watch him."
Serrano really wanted to play soccer again, and her mentor made it happen. Benditson welcomed Serrano back to SMC soccer with open arms, and their past made the transition seamless.
"Aaron seeing me go through all of that in the past and seeing me able to overcome a lot and advance into a career, start a new family, and then come back to school, I feel like he is proud of me."
When Santa Monica College Women's Soccer's team will play their first playoff game on Nov. 18, they look at Serrano as key to their success. After having two children, tearing her ACL, serving as a police officer, and being a working student Serrano has been dominant on the field all season long.
In eighteen games, she has 15 goals and three of them were game winners, which helped her team capture an impressive 15-win season. Although Serrano has been playing incredible, the fact that she has been given this opportunity is surreal to her.
"Its crazy, because I never imagined coming back to Santa Monica, or even playing soccer again." She said. "Because I had a full time job, a busy schedule, and family matters."
Never complacent, Serrano said she just keeps moving forward to attain her goals. "If you don't make sacrifices, you're not going to be able to reach your full potential." Serrano said. "Just take it one day at a time, and give it your all every single day."
Now, Serrano is back in school, playing soccer, raising her children, and has a great support system. "I have an amazing support system now, and I am so thankful. My support system is mainly my parents, because they watch my kids while i'm at school." Serrano also ended her past relationship, and is now married. "My husband has been an amazing source of support as well."
Serrano will attain a degree from SMC in nursing before transferring to a four year university, where she hopes to continue playing soccer once there.
"Soccer has always been my passion since I began playing, I love it" Serrano said. "I feel privileged being out here, especially with two kids. It's just special, I try to make the most out of everyday."