Catching Up With Simone Charley

Former Vandy soccer and track standout updates life and career

by Andrew Maraniss

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Part of an ongoing series, catches up with former Vanderbilt soccer and track and field great Simone Charley.

Charley led the Commodores in goals scored in 2015 and was a second-team All-SEC selection. She was also a five-time, first-team All-American in the triple jump and two-time NCAA runner-up.

Charley recently took some time for a Q&A to update her life and career: What is your occupation these days?

Charley: “I currently play professional soccer for the Portland Thorns.”

How has COVID-19 affected you and your family?

“The coronavirus has changed my day-to-day life. I normally would be training with my teammates as we prepare for the start of the NWSL season. Now that our season has been postponed, we all have to train and prepare on our own. Rather than the usual regimented schedule of practicing and lifting with my teammates I now have to complete the workouts by myself.

“On a positive note, it has given me more time to catch up over FaceTime with my family and friends since we are all working from home.”

What has been the hardest adjustment?

“I would say the hardest adjustment for me has just been keeping to myself. I was in Australia these past few months and moved back to Portland right as social distancing really started. Being out of the country for so long, I was excited to hang out with my friends and spend time with everyone I had not seen in a few months.

“Since I have not been able to see my friends or teammates in person since being back, our ‘catch-up sessions’ have now all had to happen on FaceTime. I cannot say this was the ‘homecoming’ I was expecting.”

What has been the most pleasant surprise in these circumstances?

“I would say one pleasant surprise from these circumstances would be how much I am enjoying a slower pace of life. As I previously said, I would normally be training on a regimented schedule. As life has slowed down, I have had more time to focus on self-development and work on things I would not normally have time to work on.

“I have been able to read books I have been wanting to read as well as catch up with friends on FaceTime that I have not spoken to in a while. I think the slower pace and more purposeful learning has been a pleasant surprise and something I will want to continue as life picks back up.”

Any good books, movies or games to recommend?

“I am currently reading Love Does by Bob Goff which I have thoroughly enjoyed so far. I am also reading And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hoseinni which is another book I would recommend. As for television shows, I love This Is Us, so I have had time to catch back up on that TV series. I recently watched Beyonce’s Homecoming performance on Netflix which was amazing as well.”

What was your all-time favorite moment as a Commodore? 

“For soccer, I would say one of my favorite moments as a Commodore was my junior year. We beat the University of South Carolina in overtime. They were ranked No. 8 in the country at the time and that win is what put us in the SEC Tournament for the first time in almost a decade. I remember being in the dog pile after the game and Darren Ambrose chanting ‘WE ARE GOING TO ORANGE BEACH!’ as we all hugged on the field.

“As for track, I would say one of my favorite moments as a Commodore was during the indoor season of my junior year. That year the NCAA National Championships were in my hometown. We competed at the track I had grown up competing at throughout high school. So many of my friends, family and former coaches were able to come to the meet and watch me compete. It was amazing being able to celebrate making the podium with the people who made countless sacrifices for me to be there.”

What do you miss most in the sports world right now?

“I miss being out there on the field. I did not realize how much I took for granted being able to play my favorite sport everyday with amazing people until I am not able to do that right now. Outside of playing sports, I miss being able to turn on the television to catch a game. I find myself just rewatching old games now.”

Any advice or words of wisdom to Commodore Nation to help us get through this?

“While physical isolation is important, I think it is imperative that we do not allow ourselves to fall victim to social isolation. Do not forget to reach out to your friends and family during this time. With more time on your hands, you have the ability to catch up with people you may not ordinarily have time to. Although you may not be able to hang out in person, you can still build your relationships with others through technology — whether that is through book clubs on Zoom, workouts over FaceTime or just a phone call to an old friend.

“My friends and I have started a weekly Zoom Bible study which has definitely been a highlight for me these past few weeks. Physical isolation does not have to mean social isolation!”

Anything else you’d like to say about your time at Vanderbilt or what you’ve been up to since you left?

“I am forever thankful for the family that is Vanderbilt Athletics and Commodore Nation! Go ‘Dores forever!”