IMPACT: Reading is FUN-damental, Ella Smith (UNC Soccer)

By, Ella Smith

I grew up in a Tar Heel home. My parents came to UNC from out-of-state, but my brother and I were born and bred as Tar Heels in Charlotte, NC. My parents encouraged us to try anything – robotics, painting, writing poetry, and sports – and we tried it all. However, I always seemed to spend an outsized amount of time competing on a field or court.

Playing basketball, gymnastics, lacrosse, and soccer when I was only knee high, apparently I was pretty fast and overly competitive. Soccer quickly became my passion. I was fortunate to play in places all over the country, and was honored as an All-American and Scholar All-American in high school. But, my best memories were with my team from the long bus rides and overnight trips, the rainy mud covered games, and the celebration of championships earned together.

Just as important to me are my academics and off-field activities. In our house, sports and school go hand-in-hand and the skills learned in one helped the other. I poured my heart into my classes and got lost in the books assigned in my American and European History classes as well Shakespeare seminars. I found joy in learning and reading. I became a more articulate leader through my reading and class skills, and learned resilience and dealing with inevitable setbacks through sports.

Playing for Head Coach Anson Dorrance and UNC was always a dream. Not just as a Tar Heel fan, but I was drawn to the tremendous and lasting legacy of the program. From the the “Competitive Cauldron,” to summer reading books, to beep tests and memorized core values to the year-long team book club, each challenge makes us better players and people and closer as a team. It isn’t always easy playing on this caliber team, but I knew I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself and to be at UNC.

Connecting with kids has also always been something I have always cared about. Volunteering at local soccer camps and clinics through the years, I sign up for every opportunity possible to work with kids and use my role at UNC to show the important connection between school and sports. The UNC Athletic Department has a program called Team IMPACT to support a child battling cancer and I am this year’s team representative. We are so lucky to be a part of Julia’s support team and she brightens our days as much as we hope to brighten hers.

Working with Lessonsfor has been a perfect fit for me and matches my core values. They emphasize making reading fun and enjoyable, and help build lasting relationships with the college teams we have grown up cheering for. By strengthening this connection between a passion for sports and a life-long connection to reading, Lessonfor has found the winning formula.

Scroll to Top