From a young age, Julia Patrum was destined to be a great soccer player. Coming from a small hometown, she has had to fight for every opportunity and is now playing on Charlotte's big stage. The sophomore hails from Concord, N.C., and represents her hometown every time she steps foot on the soccer pitch.
Patrum started playing soccer at the age of four at her local YMCA in Concord, right down the road from Charlotte. She enjoyed playing the sport and never looked back. Being the first soccer player in her family, she paved a new path to get to the next level.
Many people have shaped Patrum, and she credits them for where she is today. And she credits them for where she is today. Her parents have always been her biggest supporters, and don't miss any of her games. Patrum's coaches have continued to push her and get the best out of her. They have been there for her on and off the field.
"My mom and my dad have been my biggest influences because they have supported me since day one," said Patrum. "I also had the same coach until the day I graduated high school, and he has shaped me as a player."
The status of a hometown hero has not always come easy for her. She put in the work, and it all paid off in her junior year of high school.
As a junior at Concord High School, Patrum scored 42 goals and 15 assists for a total of 99 points. She received many awards for her play, being named to the 3A North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association All-State Team. For her efforts, she caught the eye of Charlotte Head Coach John Cullen.
"I came from a high school that was not known for their soccer team," said Patrum. "There was pressure to produce immediately, and that is just what I had to do which helped me to mature."
Patrum decided to play at Charlotte and follow in the footsteps of star player Megan Greene. She lived up to the hype she built up in high school as she had a very successful freshman campaign with the team. Patrum was named to the All-Conference USA Freshman Team. In her second season at Charlotte, she picked up where she left off and has picked up a leadership role for the team.
"I have been stepping into a completely different role this year," said Patrum. "I have done this by trying to become a leader that we need because I want to build a strong foundation at Charlotte."
This season has been one filled with adversity and the unknown. The team currently sits at 3-4 and has battled through game cancellations and postponements. Charlotte's season was scheduled to begin on Feb. 5, but the first three season games were canceled due to covid-19 clusters. Despite that, Patrum described this team as resilient for their ability to stick together and fight through the obstacles.
"We have done a fantastic job so far this season when it comes to getting through that adversity," said Patrum.
Through it all, the team is still in a spot to make a deep run in the C-USA tournament and a major reason for that is due to the efforts of Patrum.
Patrum has played efficiently so far this season, tied for the most goals scored on the team with three for a total of eight points. She received some recognition for her play earlier in the season when she was named a TopTracer National Team of the Week Honorable Mention and C-USA Offensive Player of the Week. The accolades have given her a new sense of confidence that has shown on the field.
"When you are in college and play against some of the great talents, it is pretty cool to get a pat on the back," said Patrum. "These accomplishments almost solidified in my mind that I belong on this level."
Patrum leads by example and keeps the same approach of doing whatever she can to win. As an attacker, she is always trying to score and tries to work on the fundamentals of the game. Her mindset is key and is one that has led the team to many victories.
"I go in with the mindset of trying to score, but I also realize that the game is bigger than just scoring goals," said Patrum. "I don't measure myself on goals in a game, but rather what did I do to help the team get the win."
There's still plenty to be desired for the rest of the season. Charlotte has two more games this season before heading to the conference tournament.
As for the rest of her career, Patrum has plenty of goals to achieve at Charlotte. She wants to score goals at a high level while also lead the 49ers to the NCAA tournament. This objective will take a lot of hard work, but she is ready for the challenge.
"It would be an amazing feeling to be able to win regular season and tournament championships," said Patrum. "We are going to continue to put our heads down and work hard."
Patrum is the definition of a hometown hero. Even in high school, she had a strong passion for the game, the hard work she puts in, and is ready to rise to the challenge. The future is unknown, but she is ready for what is to come and will continue to leave Charlotte's mark.
"I have been able to build a sense of community as well as a family here, and I wouldn't want to play anywhere else," said Patrum. "It is great being able to succeed from a small high school to now being at Charlotte."