One of UCF’s most decorated student-athletes in school history is headed to the Rio Olympic Games. Brazilian Aline Reis, an All-American goalkeeper for the Knights’ women’s soccer team from 2007-11, was named to her home country’s National Team roster for the first time on Tuesday.
“Being on an Olympic roster is something very special. It’s an honor to know that I will be part of such an elite group of Knights who have participated in the Games,” Reis said. “I’m thrilled and beyond grateful for this opportunity.”
Reis is the fifth current or former student-athlete to earn a spot at the Olympics, joining:
-Fellow women’s soccer alum Michelle Akers (1996 Atlanta; USA)
-Track and field’s Afia Charles (2012 London; Antigua and Barbuda)
-Baseball’s Laurence Heisler (2004 Athens; Greece)
-Men’s golfer Ricardo Gouveia (2016 Rio; Portugal)
—Beach volleyballer and gold medalist Phil Dalhausser (3-time Olympian; USA) competed for UCF’s club volleyball team but was never a Division I student-athlete.
Reis was called up to Brazil’s National Team Camp in February. After graduating in 2011 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies (minors in coaching and health sciences) she played professionally in Finland with Seinajoen Mimmiliiga. Reis was selected for the NSCAA 30 under 30 Coaching Program in 2013 and has served as a volunteer assistant coach for UCLA since 2013 under former Knights head coach Amanda Cromwell.
Reis said she felt a desire to play again after watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015.
“Every game I watched made me miss playing the game I’m so passionate about it,” she said. “Life was good, and I was happy with where I was, but I missed being on the field. So I finally accepted that my playing years weren’t over and that I still had some dreams to chase.”
Reis has been involved with several of Brazil’s National Team camps, but had never be named to a roster for a major competition until Tuesday. She said the team has been in a residential program since last year, so she was a little intimidated about fitting in with its chemistry but didn’t let the jitters daunt her from her goal.
“I was confident I could add value to the group and knew I had something different to offer them,” she said. “So I focused on being myself, as authentic as possible, because I trusted that they would embrace me when the time was right.”
A native of Campinas, Brazil, which is located about 60 miles northwest of Sao Paulo, Reis couldn’t be happier that her first Olympics will take place in front of her friends and family.
“Sometimes I catch myself day-dreaming about the possibility of standing on the podium with my teammates, with a gold medal on our chest in front of thousands of Brazilians,” she said. “I also know that the pressure and responsibility will be enormous, bigger than any other Olympics that Brazil has played in. But that can be fun, too.”
Reis has been sharing her journey via Facebook. She said she has been overwhelmed by the amount of support she has received from her UCF family.
During her career at UCF, Reis was an NSCAA All-America selection as a sophomore; a Hermann Trophy Watch List member in 2009; a four-time NSCAA all-region and Conference USA all-conference honoree; a member of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS first team; and a two-time NSCAA College Scholar All-American.
Reis still ranks second in UCF’s record book for career saves and fourth for shutouts. In her senior year, she led UCF to NCAA Elite Eight for the first time since 1987.
“So many people have reached out to me and made sure I knew they are sending me good vibes and cheering for me. It is absolutely awesome to have my fellow Knights supporting me!” she said. “My years at UCF were crucial at shaping the person and the player I am today. (Former coaches) Amanda Cromwell and Donna Fishter were incredible mentors to me and helped me take my game to the next level. Undoubtedly, my experience at UCF put me a lot closer to achieving the Olympic dream. So, I’m proud to be a Knight and thankful that UCF helped me become a part of this elite group of student-athletes who made the Olympics.”