Yarumian also taught Conley a lesson of mind over matter on the first day of tryouts her freshman year. Due to Lyme disease, he needed to have a tube put in from his arm to his heart and was given the option to be put under and miss tryouts or stay awake then go to the tryouts in excruciating pain.
“I was that high school athlete that, you know, couldn’t do things because I always had soccer,” Conley said.
Conley worked hard to reach her goal to get a full Division I scholarship to give back to her parents. Getting to the next level meant sometimes having to miss hanging out with friends for games or practices.
During her sophomore year of high school she verbally committed to Bryant University in her home state of Rhode Island.
A coaching change at Bryant meant Conley’s commitment went void, she began to get nervous until she stumbled across another Division I school with interest.
Now in her senior year of high school, Conley committed to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, another Division I school, on a scholarship. At first, it was a perfect match.
Conley toured the school, liked the coaches and liked the team and another recruit who she is still great friends with to this day and was feeling hopeful about her future.
In her first-year at Umass-Lowell, it was a great fit. Conley came in as a freshman and flourished, playing in every game of the 2016 season and starting most of them, while making a group of some very close friends she still keeps in touch with.
Despite an impressive first fall season for Conley her future at Umass-Lowell was in question. The River-Hawks brought in a new coach.
With three weeks left of class in her freshman year, as the spring season was ending, the coach brought Conley into his office and told her her scholarship was being taken away.
The new coach wanted to change things up by replacing the starting lineup with new players from around the world, which did not include Conley.
Conley admits going from being an everyday player to sitting on the bench was not easy.
“It was really hard. It took a lot for me to be able to admit that to people and to say hey look somebody came up to me and told me I wasn’t enough,” Conley said.
Despite the frustration of having her starting role taken away, Conley wanted to keep a team-first mentality. However, due to the team revoking her scholarship she stepped down from the team.
The reality of the situation pulled Conley away from her passion, but it did not really hit her until her sophomore year, when the season began without her.
“I was this little girl that loved the game and I went my entire life that was the only thing I knew. And then I had that sophomore year fall season and I wasn't playing anymore,” Conley said.
Conley was a Psychology major at UMass-Lowell, and had many great friends on campus but was not the same without soccer.
“she had given up soccer….she had basically made the determination that she did not want to play soccer anymore that she was done and that was a very sad experience for her, for all of us,” Pat Conley, Chrissy’s father said.
But Chrissy tried to stay optimistic, trying to find the positives in a tough situation.
“I thought I could keep that student non-athlete vibe going but my heart just wanted to play,” she said. “I keep trying to tell people I’m not upset about this but inside I was itching to touch the ball...I didn't have closure to the sport and I was lost.”
Things for Conley did not get any better.. She was separated from mostly everyone she associated with and she couldn’t escape her relationship with her then boyfriend..
Conley had gone to an all-girls school from kindergarten thru 12th grade where female empowerment is very important to being a very hard relationship for her.
“ I was put down a lot... he totally put a blind fold over my eyes. I forgot who I was,” Conley said.
In addition to the tough times she was having, Conley also had very bad stomach issues.
What started in her senior year of high school and puzzled many doctors had turned into “excruciating” stomach pain during that fall.
Now Conley was laying on her dorm room floor looking at those bricks, beginning to hate who she was.
“I just was very lost and all of a sudden I thought, ‘hey I need to get out of here I need to go see the world’ because I’ve always loved traveling,” Conley said.
Being so dedicated to soccer, Conley was able to travel to play in Spain and Italy for the Region One Olympic development soccer team during her junior and senior years of high school.
Conley saw a poster for a study abroad program where students would spend a semester in Greece.
Studying abroad had never crossed her mind because of soccer, especially at the Division I level where there are two seasons, fall and the spring.
Though unexpected because of how last-minute the decision was, Conley’s parents were proud of her for participating to get away from everything.
“It was an absolute perfect fit for her, we weren’t surprised, very pleased, it got her off of campus, out of the day-to-day interactions with her friends, who were very good friends but were still on the team,” Pat said.
Before she left, she broke up with her boyfriend and finally got her stomach issues resolved. Turns out she needed her gallbladder removed.
Greece was beautiful.
More importantly, Conley was able to gain perspective when she stepped into uncharted waters.
“I was away from everything and when you can see things from above, it's way easier to fix, because you can move pieces into place rather than being in the middle where you don't know where to look or to start,” Conley said.