Ali Salvador sets her sights on professional soccer career after graduation

Growing up in a family of soccer enthusiasts, Ali Salvador, a Waterloo Ontario, Canada native, was bound to fall in love with the sport. At the young age of four, the future Alcorn State University soccer team standout began her journey with the help of the most influential person in her corner, her father.

"My whole family is huge soccer fanatics, so I grew up watching and playing the sport," said Salvador, who will earn a bachelor's degree in health and physical education Saturday, May 5 during the University Commencement Exercise. "My dad used to be a professional soccer player, so he put me in soccer at a very young age. He taught me everything there is to know about soccer and life. He always motivates me and pushes me to be the best."

During her journey, Salvador has used the teachings and motivation of her father to exceed expectations on the field. Instead of partying or recuperating from studies and sports over Spring Break, Salvador traveled to the Netherlands to train with the Dutch Professional Club VV Alkmaar of the Women's Premier League. The experience provided insight into what she can expect from being a professional while giving her an opportunity to enhance her skills.

"It was an amazing experience. I loved the style of play. I got to see a different style of soccer, and I can implement that into how I play. It's always good to play as much as you can and get as much exposure as possible. Any training with a high profile team is good for my betterment as a player."

As a four-year starter and team captain for the Braves soccer team, the crafty defender helped the team to qualify for the SWAC Championship for the third time in the program's history and first since 2011. Salvador was second on the team this year in points scored.

As she prepares to move to the next phase of her life, Salvador reflected on her time with the Braves soccer team and the good times she shared with her teammates who she considers family.

"My favorite part about playing for Alcorn is my teammates. I met so many great girls from all over the world who became my sisters. We all got to know each other so well, and we formed an extraordinary bond. We became a family here, and I'm going to miss that the most."

Salvador hopes to play for a competitive team in Europe after graduation.