Photography by FUJIKO STUDIOS.
Alina Lisi Garciaméndez-Rowold is a former soccer player who scored major success on the pitch while figuring out how to achieve her goals off the field. A 2008 graduate of Ursuline Academy, she helped lead the team to four TAAPS Division I championships. At Stanford, she was named to the All-Pac-12 first team and the NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team. Garciaméndez joined the Mexican National Team in 2008. She was a starter for Mexico’s team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011 and the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament semifinals in 2012. Now a pediatric dental resident at Texas A&M College of Dentistry in Dallas, she reflects on soccer’s role in her life.
What is your background?
I was born in Los Gatos, California. My family moved to Dallas when I was 3. I call Dallas my hometown. My parents were born in Mexico City. They moved to the States for postgraduate studies. I have German heritage from my mother’s side. Her mother was born in Germany, and her father was born in Mexico to a German father and Mexican mother.
When did you start playing soccer?
I was 4. My brothers and I played every sport we could sign up for. My father was my first coach. Our team was called the Dandelions.
What was it like growing up in Dallas?
I enjoyed growing up in Dallas, although we had to drive a lot. Dallas seemed to have everything I was interested in—professional sports, restaurants, amusement parks, large malls.
What are your memories of Ursuline?
The majority of my memories comes from playing soccer for Ursuline. Everyone who played on the team knows that tradition never graduates. Playing on the soccer team helped my development as a player and as a person. The Ursuline soccer family taught me punctuality, discipline, camaraderie and leadership.
Tell me about your family.
I have two brothers. My parents live in the same house I grew up in. My father works for PepsiCo in the cyber security sector.
What is your typical training schedule?
I like to stay active despite not having a team to train with. On a typical day, I wake up at 4:30 a.m. and head to the gym to lift weights for about an hour. I come home and walk my dog for 2.5 miles. I jump in the shower and head to the clinic. I can probably give thanks to our soccer schedule at Ursuline. We would have morning soccer practices before the sun would rise. We had to be there 15 minutes prior to the start of practice. Otherwise, we would be late. I lived 30 minutes from the practice field, so it was a very early morning wake-up call for me.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
In soccer, I am proud of being a part of the Mexican National Team coached by Leonardo Cuellar. Women’s soccer in Mexico is accepted because of him and what he’s done for women in the sport. I am honored to be a small part of the legacy he left behind. In academics, I graduated from dental school in 2018 and won the Baylor Oral Health Foundation Centennial Award.
What is the most challenging thing you’ve overcome?
Accepting that my competitive soccer days have come to an end. I suffered a knee injury in 2016 while playing a pick-up soccer game. Accepting that the biggest chapter in your life has come to an end was difficult to come to terms with. I had put so much sweat, blood and tears into the sport, and in the blink of an eye, it is in the past.
What is the best advice you ever received?
“Every little thing counts.” That was from Ursuline varsity soccer coach Jamie Cantrell. Coach Cantrell believed that if you do the little things correctly, train every day and show up on time, you will be successful in the future.
Who is your greatest influence?
My mother. I am following in her footsteps as a pediatric dentist. As the quote says, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” She is a hard worker, compassionate and a dedicated businesswoman and mother. I admire that and strive to be like her every day.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Do something you love. It doesn’t become “work” if it is something you truly love.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a hard-working individual who puts others’ needs ahead of my own. I also hope I can inspire young girls to chase their dreams. My dream was to play soccer and participate in the Women’s World Cup while attending dental school. I want young girls to know it is possible to stay active while pushing yourself academically.