Muslim ban drove soccer player Summer Bales into action

Tod Leonard, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Soccer

SAN DIEGO -- For the first two years Summer Yousif Bales was at UC San Diego, her "world" amounted to about the size of a square city block.

She attended and lived in the dorms of Eleanor Roosevelt College, just a few hundred yards from the Tritons' soccer stadium.

On those grounds the former walk-on became a starting midfielder and captain on teams that won a remarkable nine trophies, captured back-to-back West Region titles and last year reached the NCAA Division II national semifinals.

Even today, as a graduate student, Bales' classes in the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy are a short walk from the soccer locker room.

Bales, 21, distinguished herself on the field as a first-team all-conference player as a senior in 2018, and what she's achieved without a soccer ball in serving to help immigrants put her at a banquet table Sunday night in Indianapolis for the NCAA Woman of the Year ceremonies.

From an initial group of a record 585 nominations for athletes who compete in all three divisions of the NCAA, a group was narrowed to 151, and then pared again to 30 -- 10 each from Division I, II and III. Bales happily made that last cut to be in D-II's top 10.


Though Bales said she has been notified she is not the top choice, that is a trivial detail.

"To see the caliber of the other 30 people and read about them, it is a huge honor to be a part of it," Bales said earlier this week, sitting outside a campus coffee shop above the UCSD soccer stadium.

"People are coming from so many experiences and backgrounds. They've done such amazing things."

Bales' contributions to the world and people in San Diego hit close to home, in more ways than one.


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