We spent some time with Avery & Ella Moody. Twins, who just graduated from Gardendale High School and signed college soccer scholarships to play together at Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM).
Tell our readers about growing up in Gardendale?
Ella: Growing up in Gardendale has been a blessing. Knowing you have such a close community and people around you that support you is what makes living in Gardendale so special
Avery: In such a small town, you know everyone, and everyone knows you, which is great because you have such a big support system around you.
As twins, did you decide early on that you would play the same sport?
Ella: As twins, we’ve always done everything together. If one tried a new sport, so did the other. We’ve always enjoyed being on the same team together and doing sports together. We’re both pretty competitive people and love to compete, even is that’s against each other.
Avery: In a way, being together kind of pushed us to be the best versions of ourselves because we constantly wanted the best for each other. If one goes out to practice, the others coming along. But, with that comes a lot of comparison.
Ella: Being together all the time creates opportunities for coach’s and even teammates to compare our personalities and abilities on the field.
Avery: We would always get questions like “Who is faster?”, “Who is better at soccer?” This is something we’ve had to learn to work through and support each other in.
What sports did you play before soccer and what age where you when you first played on a soccer team?
Ella: We started soccer at age 4 and loved it and have played ever since.
Avery: We’ve always played soccer, but in the off season we tried dance, cheer, and basketball but only ever looked forward to “soccer season.” We loved the game from the beginning.
Did you know after playing soccer for the first time that you only wanted to dedicate your time to that one sport?
Ella: Always. Even though we had fun together playing other sports, soccer was the one sport we would go out and put in extra work outside of practice.
Once you knew soccer was the sport you wanted to focus on how did you approach getting better? How did you discover the path you needed to take to have an opportunity to play at the next level?
Ella: I think for us, it was just always finding a way to play. When we moved to Africa in 2016, we quickly realized how big soccer was over there. We also quickly realized that in their culture, women don’t play soccer. That’s the men’s sport. Despite this, we would go out and play pick up soccer with a bunch of boys at 1:00 every day. I think finding ways to just play is what we had to do in order to get better.
Avery: When we got back from Africa, we knew we had to get back to playing “organized soccer” and not just pick up games. So, we got plugged in to Hoover Vestavia Soccer Club and had an amazing Coach, Kat Nichols, show us what it takes to have that opportunity at the next level. She encouraged us and encouragement, she pushed us and helped us get to where we’re at.
How much travel was involved in playing soccer and what were the challenges as a teenager in balancing school, practice, travel and having free time?
Avery: There was tons of travel every weekend. Whether that was Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, or Florida, we were constantly traveling every weekend. School was never really a problem though because we have never had a problem with procrastination.
Ella: We would always finish our work at school to leave time for practice or any free time. We did miss out on some things like homecoming, football games, and some other school functions, but I feel like it was worth it because we were able to get where we are today.
What age were you when you first knew that coaches were seriously looking at you for recruitment?
Ella: Because of COVID, recruitment was difficult. In the past, you would hear of girls committing their 8th or 9th grade year, but because recruiting has changed and because COVID put everything on pause, recruiting for us started junior year and we didn’t commit until late senior year. But coaches seriously started looking at us June our junior year.
Do you feel like you missed out on doing other things by dedicating yourself to your soccer schedule while in school?
Avery: Like we mentioned earlier, we did miss out on a few homecomings, football games, and other school events, but I think it was all worth it because it helped us get to where we are today, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I made so many memories with my teammates and coaches and got to see so many places. I think it was worth it.
Ella: We did miss out on a few things in high school, but I think it was worth it. I found my best friends through soccer, so I feel like I didn’t miss out on much.
What was the recruiting process like for soccer? Were you committed to playing college soccer together on the same team if recruited or was there a moment when you thought of going to separate universities?
Ella: Growing up we did everything together. As we got older and started looking at colleges, we decided we would try to look for different colleges and kind of go our own way. We decided to keep options open. I fell in love with the school the second we were on campus, and I committed a few months before Avery. I think everyone expected us to split up so that kind of put pressure on both of us as we were making our decision.
Avery: We always told people we were going to keep our options open. If we went together then fantastic, if we didn’t, we were still going to cheer each other on wherever we ended up. We got offered by all of the same schools, but Ella committed to AUM in November and loved everything about the school. We still didn’t know if we wanted to go to school together so I continued talking to a few other schools. Eventually I decided that there was no other place I would rather be other than AUM and committed in December.
For the student-athletes reading this, what is your advice to them? Many of them would like to follow in your footsteps.
Avery: My advice to student-athletes now would be don’t get caught up in comparison. It’s a lesson I had to learn, and it crippled the way I played for a few years. You have your own journey, be confident in who you are and what you can do. Don’t worry about others just focus on you and keep working hard. I used to be so nervous the second that I got on the field that I would make a mistake, don’t worry about that. Always remember why you play.
Ella: My advice to student-athletes is simply keep going. You will find players better than you. You will find players faster and stronger than you. You will find players who know so much more about the game than you but keep learning and never stop. There will always be someone better than you, but it’s about how you respond and react when your faced with this fact.