Molly Lester is an MMS classmate and Duke Women’s Soccer captain. Her team had a great season last year, and they made it to the finals of the National Championship. I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with one of the many student-athletes that we have in the MMS program, and I am very thankful to Molly for sharing her insights and experiences.
Tell me about yourself; maybe a little background information and how you got into soccer?
I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia – born and raised there. I spent my whole life in Atlanta, but I’ve been in Durham the last five years because I was doing my undergraduate work here at Duke. I got into soccer when I was about 4 years old, when my dad signed me up at this club around the corner from my house. It’s a girls-only club, and it’s kind of exclusive because lots of people want their daughters to play soccer. The club said that the only way that they could sign me up is if he would coach, because they needed more coaches. He didn’t really know anything about soccer at the time, but he became my coach.
So how did you progress past the recreational level to arrive where you are today?
Well, from age 4 to 9 it was all recreational, where everybody plays and you don’t keep score, you know. I think it was around fourth grade when I tried out for the Select team, which included around 24 girls, split 12 and 12 for the A team and the B team. I tried out and made Select, so ever since fourth grade I’ve been traveling for soccer.
What was your undergraduate major here at Duke?
I majored in American history and minored in French and English.
Another liberal arts background, that’s great! What is your favorite era of American history?
The Civil War is my favorite. Actually, I come from a family of historians; my grandfather was the curator at Monticello, and has written a bunch of books about Jefferson, so that’s always been interesting.
How do you feel about Durham and North Carolina?
You know it grows on you, it’s not so bad. People seem to hate on Durham a little, but it’s not so bad. I think I’ll probably miss it, even though it’s not as big as Atlanta.
What drew you to the MMS program?
A combination of reasons, actually. I wanted to be able to leverage the liberal arts, research, and writing skills that I learned in undergrad, but I was lacking business knowledge. There was also the opportunity to play a fifth soccer season because I red-shirted twice for medical reasons – I had knee surgeries. So I really wanted to make this extra year worthwhile and count for something, academically.
What was the National Soccer Championship like?
Unfortunately, we lost in the final round, but we had a really good run and a good season. We made it to the final, so that in itself was a pretty big accomplishment. It was great because the tournament was actually right outside of Atlanta, so it was nice for me to be near my hometown. Most of my family was there, and there were lots of familiar faces in the stands, including some friends from high school and some old club members that I know, so it was really nice.
You were also Captain; how do you feel about that experience?
Well, I’ve been a captain for the past two years, and it has gone really well. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s not too glamorous at times – there’s a lot of secretarial and organizational things to do, like telling people where to be and what to wear, both on and off the field. I sort of served as a liaison between the coaches and the players, so it’s always important to know what’s going on and to stay a few steps ahead. But I really liked it, I liked having the responsibility and I liked having a leadership role.
So where are you hoping to land after the MMS program?
I actually cast a very wide net in terms of my career search, and I received two great offers, including one from a marketing firm in Charlotte. Ultimately, I decided to accept an offer to join a rotational program at a financial services company in Boston. I’m really excited about this opportunity.
Congratulations on your offers! Seems like you were on top of your career search. How were exams for you?
Last term was the most difficult in terms of studying for exams, and getting focused. I just came off of a very emotional and intense soccer season, so it’s hard sometimes to sit down for long periods and study. I also missed a lot of class last semester, which made it more difficult because I was always playing catch-up.
How did you balance your time between soccer and the MMS program?
Very carefully and skillfully. I like to be busy, so knowing when I have to study makes me sit down and study. Plus I knew that I had practice every day from 3:00 to 6:00, so usually I either woke up early or I studied into the night.
Do you have any accomplishments over either your academic or athletic career that you are particularly proud of?
I graduated with a fairly high GPA from undergrad, so I am proud of that. In terms of athletics, I switched positions in my senior year and moved into an offensive position. Our first game was at the University of Georgia, so it was a home crowd for me, and I scored the game-winning goal. I had never really scored before, and that was my first true game-play in front of a lot of my friends and family, so that was great.
Your favorite place to travel?
I studied abroad in Paris during the summer after my sophomore year, and I fell in love with it; I would love to go back to Paris. In terms of general travel, I really enjoy the beach.
Your favorite book?
Secret Life of Bees – I liked the story and it just stuck with me.
Your favorite movie?
Legally Blond – Elle Woods is just so happy!
Your favorite TV show?
Sex and the City
Your favorite food?
I would really have to go back to my experience in Paris – Bistro food and French food. In terms of general, everyday foods – pizza and ice cream are my go-to foods.
Your favorite music?
I have an eclectic taste in music because I am from the South and I like country, but I’m also from the hip-hop capital of the world, so I’ve seen my share of rap concerts. That said, I also like Coldplay and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews, so I like a little of everything.
Any words to live by?
“If you’re going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk.” I don’t know if those are words to live by, but I like to keep that in mind.