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Carlin Hudson ’18, All-Ivy Bulldogs defender and captain, will continue her professional soccer career at EA Guingamp in the storied Division 1 Feminine for the 2019–2020 season.

Last Monday, Hudson moved to France to begin the next phase of her life. What may seem like an unrealistic fantasy to some had been one of Hudson’s goals for years. Hudson’s time on the Yale backline was cut short when she tore her ACL in the first game of her sophomore season. With her collegiate career compressed, Hudson realized she wanted to find a way to continue playing soccer beyond the confines of New Haven. She even began to dream of playing abroad in Europe. However, Hudson got the chance to play domestically, as a fourth-round draft pick for the North Carolina Courage, the defending NWSL champions. Then, seeking more playing time, she transferred to the Washington Spirit for the 2019 season. Midway through her season, Hudson was contacted by a French manager about her interest in playing abroad.

“I think that it’s going to be such a new experience, seeing how different cultures live,” Hudson said. “[For instance], everything’s closed on Sunday here, and that’s just one example of something I’ve learned so far. Seeing how they greet each other and treat each other, and learning about all the ways in which we’re different from each other … it’s not a huge culture difference, but then getting here, you realize how obvious it is that you’re an American in one sense.”

The EAG opportunity arrived at a fortuitous time. Ahead of her season with the Spirit, Hudson had made a deal with herself to seek something new if she wasn’t able to start frequently or play many minutes. Additionally, Hudson was wrestling with a difficult choice between two worlds — that of the typical working professional and that of the professional athlete.

In her senior year of college, Hudson had landed a consulting job at Bain & Company in New York. After getting drafted, she had deferred the opportunity to 2019. Then, after moving to the Spirit, she deferred the job again. When asked whether she could defer the starting date a third time, Hudson was denied, meaning that she would have had to make a difficult choice, either turning down consulting completely or walking away from professional soccer.

Luckily, playing abroad meant Hudson could have it all.

“The European season is perfect,” Hudson said. “It ends in May and I basically will be able to get an entire season in Europe and join Bain in the fall or summer [without deferring the job further]. Basically, if I ever was going to Europe, it was going to be this season and I wasn’t ready to decline that job offer.”

However, Hudson’s dream of trekking around all of Europe soon ended when she realized that she would be playing soccer all the time. Still, she is looking forward to learning about French culture and language, having taken French through L4 at Yale.

At Yale, Hudson was a walk-on. As soon as she began training with the team, she found success, starting 15 games in her rookie season. She left the program as captain and the recipient of the Fritz Rodriguez Defensive Player of the Year Award.

“She left a framework for excellence [for the team],” friend and teammate Reina Bonta ’21 said. “She was a senior when I was a freshman and she made me feel immediately comfortable [on the team].”

Current captain, Alyssa Fagel ’20 concurred with Bonta, adding that Hudson’s success came as no surprise.

Given her experience juggling the ever-difficult student-athlete balance, Hudson strives for a busy schedule, pursuing new passions outside of her work, most recently, cooking. While in France, Hudson hopes to transfer her culinary passion into a side job working at a café.

Hudson will surely have the opportunity to immerse herself in French culture, since Guingamp’s roster is almost entirely French. There are, however, other international players on the team, with teammates hailing from Denmark, Russia, Cameroon and Nigeria. Hudson is the lone American.

Just over a week before she left the States, Hudson still had one last trip to make. She surprised the current Yale team in their Baltimore hotel room, after their victory against Loyola Maryland. Players young and old got the chance to connect with Hudson.

“I’m really excited for her,” Fagel said. “I think at the end of the day to choose the thing you want to do, regardless of how difficult it is, is inspiring.”

EA Guingamp plays Le Mans FC on Monday.

Contact Larissa Jimenez at larissa.jimenez@yale.edu@yale.edu and Esther Reichek at esther.reichek@yale.edu .