WORDS AND PHOTOS BY: GUSTAVO ORTEGA
Chloe Froment can’t remember a time when she wasn’t on the soccer field. Growing up in France, she watched from the sidelines as her dad and brother played on the pitch. By the time she was 6, she was on the field herself, playing for a French soccer club called FC Bourg Peronnas, where she was the only woman on the team.
That experience helped her earn a spot at age 16 in the development program for the French Youth National Team, where she played on teams that won the Nordic Cup, and where she also finished second in the European Championship.
Now, at 21, the fullback is a long way from her hometown of Lyon, France. She’s just completed her first year playing for the Cal State Long Beach women’s soccer team, where she led one of the best defenses in conference and helped the team win the Big West Tournament during the 2016 Fall semester.
For her efforts, Froment was awarded the 2016 Big West Freshman of the Year Award and was named to the All-West Region Second Team and All-Freshman First Team Top Drawer Soccer Women’s D1 Best XI squad.
“She is a leader on the field,” said Rocio Rodriguez, a midfielder for Long Beach State. “She cares about her teammates and wants the best for this team.”
An Athlete and a Student
Froment said she developed a passion for “the beautiful game” at a young age. Her brother, Claude, who played professionally for Olympique de Marseille in France, has always been a role model.
“My mom and dad would always go see my brother play, so they would take me,”
Froment said. “I remember playing soccer on the sideline because I wanted to do
the same thing as my brother.”
Froment hopes to some day play in the big leagues, as well. But, at 19 years old, she made one of the biggest choices of her life – leaving everything behind in France to come to Long Beach.
Although soccer is a big part of Froment’s life, having an education was much more important to her, she said.
“In France, if I play at the high level, I can't continue with my studies,” Froment said. “I still wanted to have a good education, [and] that’s why I came here.”
When she first arrived in Long Beach, however, Froment did not know a lot of English.
“The first two months here were tough,” she said. “I think I did pretty well adapting myself here.”
She credits her teammates, coaches and the people she has met for providing a great support system since she started her life here. Rodriguez said that Froment never seemed to let the language barrier stop her.
Head coach Mauricio Ingrassia agrees, adding that he enjoys coaching and mentoring Froment.
“She has done a great job to stand on her own two feet supporting herself,” Ingrassia said. “It has been fun to watch her grow.”
Her family’s support is likewise important. Despite the nine-hour time difference, she tries to call her parents at least once a day.
“When I talk to my parents, they always ask me if school and soccer are going OK,
and if I always give 100 percent during practice and games,” Froment said. “They really want me to succeed.”
The Route to the Beach
Ingrassia recruited Froment after he saw her play at Clairefontaine in 2014, a national soccer center that specializes in training French soccer players.
Froment saw the opportunity to play for The Beach as a good challenge, because even though French soccer is more technical and tactical, she loved the more physical American style of play, with short passes and good tactics.
“The way we play in France is more calm as we pass the ball,” Froment said. “Here, we run a lot, and it’s always intense.”
Ingrassia described Froment as a very easygoing person who’s funny and gets along with everybody, but she knows when to have fun and when to get serious. He said she’s also a
competitive player who always wants to win.
“She is a special player because of her tactical awareness, has great confidence and knows the game,” Ingrassia said. “She brings things to our program that players have benefited from.”
Rodriguez considers Froment a key part of the team because of her abilities to read the game from the back field.
Rodriguez recognizes Froment’s hard work on and off the field, noting that she has to work twice as hard because English is not her first language.
That hard work is finally being rewarded. During the 2016 season, Froment started 21 out of 21 games and played a total of 1,930 minutes, in which she had five assists and seven shots on goal.
The Long Beach State women’s soccer team finished the season with a ten-win record, winning nine of them at home. Froment recounted one of her favorite quotes, alluding to the team's success.
And she’s far from satisfied. Though Froment was excited about the team winning the Big West title last season, she believes they can reach even higher heights next year.
“I hope we win it again next season,” Froment said. “And also win the NCAA tournament.”