Freshman students and other Meredith community members heard from Summer Reading Program author and athlete Gwendolyn Oxenham on August 28, 2013. Oxenham discussed her book, “Finding the Game,” and offered advice about chasing dreams.
“Finding the Game” and the accompanying documentary follow Oxenham and her friends around the world in search of pickup soccer, reflecting a unique combination of her writing and athletic skills.
During the lecture to a capacity crowd in Jones Auditorium, Oxenham offered advice about how to pursue goals, and what to do when a long-held dream changes. Oxenham was a successful college soccer player at Duke University when the U.S. women’s professional soccer league folded, causing her to shift her plan of playing professionally to a new goal of becoming a writer.
“It is the loss of one dream that allows you to create a new one,” Oxenham said.
Oxenham’s book, “Finding the Game,” describes how she and a team of friends came to create the documentary “Pelada.” She called her book “the story of the evolution of a plan.”
The project covers pickup games in 20 different countries, including Bolivia, Kenya and Iran. Oxenham traveled the world to play and film informal soccer games and to observe the ways that people connect through the sport. The book shows how a determined and creative person can pursue ambitious goals, adjust to disappointments and circumstances, and ultimately find success.
Oxenham said the lesson of pickup soccer, and the project itself, is that “sometimes, you just have to get out there and see what happens.”
Her lecture also included advice for students as they pursue their education at Meredith. She called college a place to experiment and to reinvent.
“Finding something to care about is important, and college is about helping you do that,” Oxenham said. “Make sure you step out of your comfort zone … [and] watch out for being too closely tied to the ideas you have for yourself.”
Prior to Oxenham’s lecture, the Meredith community was able to play pickup soccer with the author. During her visit to campus, she also met with student athletes and aspiring writers.
The Summer Reading Program was created to enhance the academic climate on campus and to engage incoming first year students in a shared intellectual endeavor with the entire campus community, including students, faculty, staff and alumnae.