A DUSC alumna discusses her time at the club — and beyond
Located in the heart of America’s most cosmopolitan city, DUSC has always been lucky to have players and coaches from all over the world. Nina Gilden was born in France to a Parisian mom and a dad from Brooklyn. Spending her early years going back-and-forth between France and the US, she attended pre-k in Japan and then settled down in NYC for school. She lived in the same rent-stabilized loft her dad had lived in for 36 years — while playing and falling in love with soccer at DUSC.
How long did you play at DUSC?
I started playing at DUSC when I was 7. My first team was the Cardinals, it was the Recreation League and we played on a small field by the Carmine swimming pool [JJ Walker]. I fell in love with the game and tried out for the U10 Girls travel team, made the team and haven’t stopped playing since. Back then, the only fields at Pier 40 where the roof top and the indoor field. There was no beautiful center pitch, but rather a huge parking lot with beautiful views of the river and downtown! Balls were constantly going over into the Hudson or landing on the hoods of cars! Girls soccer in the city has really improved since I started playing in the late 90’s, early 2000’s and it’s exciting to watch so many young girls getting into the beautiful game. Because competition wasn’t extremely high in the girls teams, DUSC made an exception to allow me to also play on the boy’s U-11 team. I loved it! I played until I was 12 with DUSC and then found a competitive girls team in Long Island. I started living somewhat of a double life: going to school in NYC while taking the LIRR six days a week to train and play games with my new club team. DUSC gave me my soccer foundation and the love to play, which I still carry with me today.
What are your fondest memories playing with the club?
Pier 40 is and always will be my favorite place in NYC. I’ve watched it develop and grow just as DUSC has also grown and is opening up a fun, competitive and memorable experience for its players. When you are young all you want to do is play with your friends. I felt so lucky to be able to play soccer with my friends, just to kick a ball around and bond with my teammates.
What life lessons did you learn from playing the beautiful game?
Hard work pays off! On and off the field, I had to learn time management skills to be able to play and get my homework done. Soccer was a reward. I definitely learned how to be a team player, which helps a lot in the work world. I am also very appreciative of my parents: without my dad I wouldn’t have started playing and without my traveling soccer mom, I could not have made it to any of my soccer practices or games. Plus she’s an awesome cheerleader. Go soccer moms!!
What are you up to now?
I am a certified art teacher and have been teaching Art and French in the city. At the moment I am also applying to school for Interior Design.
What nationality are you?
I am half French and American.
What team are you rooting for in the World Cup? And why?
France, allez les Bleus! I can’t stop watching highlights of the game against Argentina. Mbappé, wow!!! I also do really love watching Mexico play though, they are fast, technical and great on the counter.
What interesting things should we know about you?
I’m naturally a lefty but my dad trained me to play with both feet, he saw it as a great advantage. He made me practice every day and “Fake one way, go the other” has been drilled in my brain. I’m now almost better with my right foot!