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Athlete of the Week: Minnechaug’s Anna Maria Ribeiro

WILBRAHAM, Mass. (WGGB) — Minnechaug girls soccer has gotten off to a terrific 6-2-1 start here in 2013 and that in part can be credited to their brick wall of a goalkeeper: Anna Maria Ribeiro.

However, Ribeiro doesn’t want the story to center around her. She instead wants the focus on her inspiration.

It’s easy for a standout athlete to boast about their abilities. It’s not hard for the world to know of your achievements.

But for Minnechaug’s humble goalie, Ribeiro wants people to know what motivates and inspires her off the field.

“My mom’s sister-in-law got breast cancer this last school year. I’m just happy she fought it. She’s a survivor, she’s doing well. I’m just so happy i can be there for her,” Ribeiro says.

For Ribeiro, this is, unfortunately, a familiar scenario as she lost an aunt to breast cancer at a young age.

Encountering it once again, the senior knew she needed to make a difference this time around. “Once I found out that my aunt had developed breast cancer, I was like ‘I had to do something, I need to support her,’ so I went out of my way and cut my hair shorter and shorter and as she lost her hair, I cut mine shorter. I cut my hair all the way down to the scalp and I was bald and basically had no hair,” Ribeiro explains.

That, of course, can bring strength to an individual in every facet of life, something family friends have seen her develop over time.

Teacher and family friend Georgina Trebbe says, “I’ve watched her really come into her own and really own who she is in such a special way and to know her direction in life. She’s family centered. Her education is centered and is able to make really spectacular choices.”

In a sports world that can get so wrapped up in numbers and statistics, Ribeiro doesn’t want to be known for her abilities in the net. Instead, it’s her growth as an individual that she hopes to be defined by.

“You just have to learn to balance your life issues. Whether it’s a job. soccer, academics, or boyfriend and girlfriend, you just have to know when to balance it and where the important things come in and where your place is in life.”

While it’s important to be a leader on the field, it pales in comparison to being a role model off of it. That, in the end, is her definition of success.

Ribeiro notes, “I believe that I need to go far. I believe that there is nothing in the way of reaching my goals. My grades are very important to me for the studies that I want to go into to…get into college and basically become someone.”

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