Pro Soccer Player Turned GrowthX Bizdev Manager Kendall Romine

Kendall Romine-6710

I went to Stanford and played college soccer. I thought I was going to go to law school. I took the LSAT, prepared, and had a job lined up to go work at a firm, and then I got drafted to Seattle out of college. I had always been a planner, and this was the first time in my life where I was faced with this situation of two awesome opportunities that were so very different. If you go play pro soccer, you’re making no money. But you go for the experience, and I still loved the game and wasn’t ready to give it up. I talked with a bunch of mentors, and decided to move to Seattle.

When I was in Seattle, I loved playing, but there was this element of… Soccer is a part of who I am, but I wanted something more than just playing soccer for my life. I was on the verge of wanting to figure out what my next step was going to be, professionally, and there was a combination of what you could call hard truths that came out of playing pro. When you’re a rookie making seven grand, it’s a little tough to make ends meet. When you’re a superstar in college and then you show up to the pros and are put on the reserves, it’s tough. I had this roller coaster of an experience. I loved the girls. It was an honor to play with Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe—absolute role models and idols of mine as a kid. But I had this feeling of emptiness and really wanted a new challenge.

The experience in the NWSL, which is the pro league up there, is very similar to the life in startup world. It’s highly volatile. It can change in a heartbeat. You take an opportunity and run with it, and you’re following a dream, and a lot of people it doesn’t pan out for. For me, I kind of had this opportunity where I was halfway looking into jobs as the offseason was approaching, and I found a startup called Sosh in San Francisco. I had a lot of family and friends that lived in California, and I wanted to make my back for the offseason.

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When you’re an athlete and you prepare well, you train hard, you do everything that you need to be doing to prepare mentally and physically, I could show up and perform well. And I had a lot of success as an athlete. Of course you face adversity as an athlete, but when you get to working with startups, time moves so fast here. You may come up with one business model and it changes in a heartbeat.

With the market acceleration program, I have the opportunity to work across multiple different industries with different founders. It’s super exciting, but it’s a different challenge every single time. It’s a new industry, it’s a new market. It takes a lot to learn everything about that industry really fast. I like it because there’s something new every day, but it’s a lot to learn at a fast pace.

I still play here and there. I haven’t played competitively since, but I have a group of friends and we’ll just go play indoor. It’s fun to play in a co-ed league and not tell anyone that you played professionally and have a lot of fun with it.

Actually I’m loving playing other sports now. I like having the new challenge. I ran my first half marathon a few weeks ago. I did mine in Santa Cruz. It was from Santa Cruz to Capitola and back. It was awesome. As a soccer player you run, but I run maybe seven miles a game. It’s a lot, but I was not prepared for that. I told myself if I can look at the beach and watch surfers, I can make it work. It’s right on the water, and not too much elevation change. It’s incredible.

In the winter I love to ski. I’m a snowboarder actually. It’s been fun to not have to worry about getting hurt, so I’m going off boxes in Tahoe and going through the trees. It’s a blast. Soccer has been a great part of my life, but snowboarding, running, and volleyball have been my thing lately.

I love to travel, and I love the outdoors. I studied abroad in college and lived in Chile for four months. I was a girly girl before that, despite being an athlete, and it opened my eyes to how cool it is to actually get outdoors. So on the weekends I try to just explore different areas in the bay. I know a lot of people do that up here, but I’m the person who will wake up and drive to Yosemite and do a day trip.

I was not techy at all. In fact, I never thought I would work in tech. I started in international relations and minored in Spanish. IR was the closest you could get to business at Stanford. I had no interest in engineering, and I took a lot of courses that were economics and urban studies and public policy-type classes.

My favorite classes were social entrepreneurship, and that opened my eyes to the entrepreneurial world. My dad is an entrepreneur, he has his own business, and just in time I kind of fell into tech, and I’m really thankful for it because it’s really fun and innovative. I was going to be going to law school with the hope of doing corporate law for startups and VCs, and I’m so glad I didn’t fall into that path. I was not techy, but now I’m so glad I’m here. And I’m getting to take HTML classes and learning CSS. It’s really cool.

I’ve tried code school and Codeacademy. And actually it’s been really surprising. I never thought it would be so fun. It’s like learning a new language, and it’s like doing a puzzle, and my brain is very logical.

When I first came to Galvanize, we were on the fifth floor and I would see students in passing. I would ask what they were learning, and it was really neat to hear what they were doing. Their backgrounds are so different. A lot of people weren’t in the engineering field. They weren’t computer science majors coming in. It’s a really great thing to have a place where you can come in and get that experience. Everybody’s really smart, and everybody’s working on an awesome project that’s attacking a different industry. I just love the conversations that organically evolve here.

-Kendall Romine, Business Development Manager at GrowthX in San Francisco, California. You can find her on LinkedIn

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