Soccer, like lots of stuff, is at a standstill.
One thing I look forward to: Getting back to the sidelines this fall to coach the boys at Liberty Prep. Also, to see Hayden play at Piedmont International University. One more thing to fit in the schedule: Watching Camdyn play with Charlotte Independence.
It’s a new club formed when three organizations – Lake Norman Soccer Club, where two of my girls played, included – merged into a super club. It’s been fun so far, and Camdyn will play at a high level in the fall – hopefully. Lots of home for lots of things right now, right?
Today’s #GirlsRock interview is with Carra Wheat.
I met Carra through the club’s summer season. We, of course, share a love for the beautiful game, and how the family fits into the fun and madness. Please give Carra a warm CD welcome, and get in touch with her to buy tickets!
Eli: When you were little, what did you think you’d grow up to be?
Carra: I knew that I wanted to be a mom and a social worker. I have the most amazing parents! Growing up I watched them over and over put others before themselves. I knew I wanted to be just like that. Helping others with a servant’s heart seems natural to me so I knew that I wanted to have a career to serve others.
Eli: What do you remember seeing your parents do specifically that had such an impact?
Carra: It is interesting because I can’t really think of one big thing they did. It was a lot of little things, no grand gesture. Whether it was in church, school, the community they would just be there waiting to serve, to step in even if it wasn’t convenient.
Eli: Sounds like an excellent job of leading by example. Do you see yourself emulating that a bit as an adult?
Carra: Living that way is contagious. So I try to be like that in all aspects of my life.
Eli: How did you wind up with the Charlotte Independence, and what did you do before?
Carra: Before I worked for Charlotte Independence I was a counselor with at-risk youth in Pennsylvania. I provided counseling to families that were identified as having a variety of at-risk behaviors. I moved to Charlotte in 2015 and was a stay-at-home mom. In 2018 my family purchased season tickets for Charlotte Independence. We love soccer and attending games. In January 2019 I found out they were hiring and decided to turn my hobby into a job.
Eli: Tell me a little about your pre-Charlotte life, and your educational path.
Carra: I grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania. I have an extraordinary extended family, as well as my immediate family. They have made me who I am today. I went to college, where I met my husband and left with a degree in Psychology and Sociology. (Interestingly, I played tennis in college, not soccer.) I moved to Pittsburgh after graduation where I started working for a non-profit agency. We provided progressive programs as alternatives to institutional care with the goal to enhance and strengthen the lives of those families.
I worked specifically with truant children and their families. It is an amazing and beautiful thing to empower a family by providing them the tools to better their families. I loved my job! It was hard to leave, but after having my second child, I made the decision to stay home with my children.
Eli: Those transitions are hard, but I totally get that, as a parent. What are you most passionate about in the work you do now?
Carra: The funny thing is the things I am passionate about haven’t changed now that I work for the Charlotte Independence, just the activation is different. I am passionate about helping and serving others. With Charlotte Independence, I do this with raising awareness for many causes through the platform we have as well as simply helping people to have a fun experience at our games. It is an amazing thing that something as simple as soccer can bring people together to help others.
This year we were able to raise money for a local American Legion Post. They will, in turn, use that money to fund programs in the local community. I am thankful to be a part of that!
Eli: This is work a lot of people don’t know about. How do these partnerships happen?
Carra: For the partnership with the American Legion specifically, my father, along with many of my family members are members (I am also a part of the American Legion Auxiliary.) The Charlotte Independence, however, has always valued supporting military organizations since they started. We also have another partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and the Charlotte Fire Department. Every season we host a CMPD vs CFD charity soccer match. We raise money for their respective charities.
Our organization’s mission statement is “making Charlotte a better place to live through sport.” It is important to our organization that we use our platform to help others. I love being a part of this!
Eli: I love that approach, and I am proud my daughter plays in the club! Tell me what your life is like outside of work.
Carra: My life outside of work is routinely busy. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way! I have two kids, one who is in soccer and another in cheerleading. I drive them to practices and games. When we have a free weekend, which is not often since most of the Charlotte Independence games are Saturdays (as well as the kids’ games), we like to be outdoors either hiking or playing a sport. We also attend other sporting events. My husband loves baseball and we travel along the east coast to watch minor-league baseball games.
We love supporting minor-league teams of soccer as well. There is something about seeing the players have that raw talent and passion and then following their career.
Eli: What is next for you, professionally, Carra?
Carra: This question is probably the hardest for me to answer. I am not looking for the next big thing. I am so thankful to have found an organization that doesn’t make me choose between being a mom and having a career. Queen City Soccer Club is a family and they place value on employees as such. Being a mom will always come first and they encourage that in many ways. I love my co-workers! My plan for the future is to support my coworkers and represent this organization as best I can.
Eli: That sounds awesome, Carra. What advice would you give girls and young women who would like to have a career and a family?
Carra: It is possible! Set a goal and don’t settle. It may not be how you picture it, but you can do both. If an employer makes you choose between work or family, it is likely not the right employer for you and it is their loss. Find strength in the process. As women, we tend to have negative self talk so surround yourself with people that are supportive and speak life into you.
E is for End-of-your-career awards
F is for Frank, my uncle
H is for ✊🏻 haiku (my quarantine journal)
L is for learn
P is for purify your mindset
Q is for quarterback
V is for the various roles I play