An Interview with Trinidad and Tobago and Issaquah WPSL players, Kennya Cordner and Maylee Attin-Johnson with Brent George of- g4athlete.com.
Brent George: So we’re here with two soccer players from Trinidad and Tobago, Kennya Cordner and Maylee Attin-Johnson. You both are here playing for the WPSL?
Maylee Attin-Johnson: Yes, for Issaquah Soccer Club (ISC).
BG: Kennya, what’s your position?
Kennya Cordner: I am a forward/left or right wing.
BG: And Maylee?
MAJ: I’m midfield/forward.
BG: You both are also on the Trinidad and Tobago women’s national team?
KC: Yes, sir.
BG: Kennya, you’ve been playing on the national team since you were 15?
KC: Yea. I’ve been on the team for approximately 11 years.
BG: And, Maylee, you’re the current captain?
MAJ: At the moment, I’m the captain. We haven’t had any tournaments or friendlies lately, so we aren’t training at the moment. Hopefully, when I get back home, we’ll see our current status on the team. The national team is a big thing back home. Football is not in the best place in Trinidad for both men and women. In fact, a recent article on Trinidad and Tobago national soccer likened it to a waste of time. Hopefully, when we get there, we’ll see what the federation has planned for us going forward.
BG: For both of you, what is one of your most exciting moments as a player.
MAJ: For me, it’s representing my country. Not everyone gets to do that. To be able to put on that jersey and walk out there to the FIFA anthem and to stand up and listen to your national anthem is one of the greatest feelings that anyone can have. To represent my country at the highest level is one of my greatest moments.
KC: I’ll have to second Maylee, going out there and playing for your country is a tremendous feeling. You get support and you go out there and see the crowd. It’s an unbelievable and amazing feeling. Like Maylee said, hearing the FIFA anthem and the national anthem. It’s a tremendous feeling.
BG: So how did you two make your way here to play at ISC?
MAJ: For me, it was through Coach Darrel Marcelle—through a friend of his who hooked us up. He asked his friend for players and he recommended me. From there, we came here to start something huge in the area of Issaquah in women’s soccer. Hopefully we’ll make a huge impact this year to carry on the future of Issaquah football—soccer I should say.
BG: No! Say football!
KC and MAJ: (Laughs).
BG: Kennya, how about you?
KC: I was found through a former coach on the under-17 national team. That is how I got to Issaquah.
BG: So you both are blazing a trail. For future generations, huh?
KC and MAJ: Yea.
MAJ: We have authority as individuals, teammates and as a team. We’ve got a tremendous staff this season. Hopefully we’ll both stay healthy and I hope all of our players stay healthy in order for us to make a huge impact for the first year in this league.
BG: Excellent. Speaking of keeping you all healthy, soccer is rough; it’s a contact sport; it’s fast. Obviously, you’ve had your fair share of injuries, and some needing surgery. What have you both seen as keys at your level to keep yourselves healthy.
MAJ: For me, personally, going through three ACL surgeries, it wasn’t a question of fitness. One of them was a freak injury; I tried to drive the ball and it stuck in the turf—my leg went and the ball stayed. My first ever ACL injury was through a tackle from a player who came late.
I think what is important when staying healthy is hydrating, keeping your body fit and strength training. I don’t like taking supplements, I like taking natural things.
BG: Just good food?
MAJ: Yea! Good food, basically, right? I try and keep a healthy diet. I think since I’ve come to America, I’ve matured a lot in that aspect. I’m trying to keep fit year round, eating healthy and having a “proper” diet. I think those are the main things that will help you keep fit and healthy through the season.
BG: Are you the same Kennya?
KC: Yea. I second that. I am not that healthy and Maylee is trying to get me on the right track because she’ll have me drink a gallon of water a day.
BG: Ohh, hydration!
MAJ: Since we’ve been on the national team together, one of our main problems is cramping, especially if you don’t drink a lot of water or eat properly. Since Kennya has been here, she has learned that you can be better if you do the extra things which makes a big difference in your performance. She’s buying into it, slowly but surely. We can be better than what we think!
BG: Kennya, do you feel a difference in your performance and mobility with some of the little things?
KC: Very much.
The Mental Edge
BG: We’ve talked about fitness, strength, hydration, and nutrition. There is one more element I like asking of high level athletes—so our kids can learn—is the mental side or mental edge. Can you speak into that at all?
MAJ: I can definitely speak about that. For me, mentally, I think I have that element down. This is after 3 ACL surgeries and picking up nicks. I’m still here; I’m still standing. I am a very confident individual. Every time I step on the field, I believe I am the best player out there even if Mia Hamm or Marta is on the field. People can have their own opinion but once I step on that field, I believe I am the best player out there. I have a very strong and aggressive personality. The mental part motivates me.
I don’t need the coach to say, “Maylee, well done.” It’s good to hear someone say that but that doesn’t motivate me. I’m a self-motivator. That’s important when you play any sport and in whatever you do. The mental part is not a problem for me, especially going through three ACL surgeries and the rehab process. Not everyone, I believe, would be able to come back from that.
BG: I would agree with that. Being on the side of taking someone through rehabilitating, with some luck and good care, a lot of motivation and a good surgeon, all of those things have to come together to get a good result. To do that three times and here you are, playing at that level—that is excellent. So, Kennya, how about you as far as the mental game?
KC: Sometimes I’m mentally weak, but judging from what Maylee went through and if something should happen to me and I have to do the same thing, I would like to follow in her footsteps. She doesn’t give up at all; she’s a fighter from the get go. That’s why, everywhere she goes, I want to be there.
BG: That’s awesome. That speaks highly of you. One more question. Looking ahead here, how much more time do you guys have here in Issaquah before you head back home?
MAL: I think until this season is over, we’ll need to figure out visa issues with me. Once that’s figured out and until the end of the season, hopefully we make it to the finals in Florida.
BG: You guys are off to an awesome start. Undefeated! Thank you very much for sharing your time and go Issaquah!
MAL: Go Issaquah!