Rachael Anna’s GOOOALLLLS!
Before finding the law, Rachael Anna traveled the world and played pro soccer
Published in 2018 South Carolina Super Lawyers magazine on April 30, 2018
In what would likely be a parent’s nightmare scenario, Rachael Anna spent a year thumbing a ride nearly every day in Brazil. Anna, who played professional soccer with the Santos Futebol Clube in 2003, saw the decision as half initiation and half desperation.
“I walked on to that team, so I had to learn very quickly how to fit in. That meant quickly picking up Portuguese, and getting the Brazilian style of play, which was with flair and very rhythmic,” she says. “It was potentially six miles each way to practice, so it was either run the six miles, run at practice, then run home, or hitch a ride with my teammates. So it was the back of pickup trucks. Not the best idea, if you ever saw how Brazilians drive.”
It was a combination of her love of soccer and travel that got her to Brazil. But before she got there, she went around the world. Literally.
After graduating from Wake Forest, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. Lucky for Anna, her flight-attendant mother inspired her love for adventure. “We’d just hop on a plane any time,” Anna says. “This was pre-9/11, before the airlines overbooked flights.”
Anna bought the ticket of a lifetime in 2001: an around-the-world pass. Her passport boasts stamps from London, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Africa. “The most peace and at-ease I ever felt was my overland trip from Kenya to Zimbabwe,” she says. “Some of those nights, the darkest nights you’d never see, we were out in the middle of nowhere. It was liberating, and it was an epochal trip.
“I was 23, and it was the first time I had seen such poverty. That part was humbling. But there were also amazing sights—the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar, Lake Malawi, Victoria Falls.”
At home, Anna found herself doing something she didn’t like: standing still. She played center midfield for a semi-pro team before heading to Brazil. “I knew that wasn’t going to pan out, career-wise,” she says. “And then the injury bug got me.”
Inspired by an interest in law that she had growing up—“even though I probably had a more romantic idea of what practicing law was going to be”—Anna’s next great adventure was law school. “In many ways, the law fits with one of my biggest interests, which is being able to work on a team,” she says.
At Greenville’s Nexsen Pruet, she found the squad she wanted to play for: “The health care group was absolutely the people whose team I wanted to be on, the people I wanted to spend time with,” she says. “And, besides the people, I like antitrust because you got to work on deals, litigation.”
As a director of the firm’s recent business innovation, Nextra Solutions, she also helps provide technology solutions to clients.
With a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old at home, Anna’s international travel log is on hold at the moment. But give her time.
Her best travel tip isn’t where to find a secret glittering beach in Thailand or the best pho in Vietnam, but, she says, “simply choose to travel. I want to choose adventure, experiences and connection over nonessential material items whenever possible. For me, it is true that wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”