On January 20, 2016 I got an email that said, “Congratulations, you are part of the initial group of players selected to the roster for the upcoming U.S. Soccer U-15 Girls’ National Team training camp in Carson, California.” I was speechless and extremely excited to know that I would be representing our country.
On Saturday, February 11 we arrived into LAX. The nerves started to kick in once we landed and got off the plane. After getting to the hotel and checking in, we had a light training after a long day of traveling.
Walking into our locker room at the Stubhub Center, seeing the U.S. crest on the wall, having your name at the top of your locker, everything prepared and laid out, our jerseys draped over our chair, just topped it off with another level of inspiration. Being selected as one of the 40 best players in the nation, makes you think about all of the sacrifices you have made, and hard work and dedication you have put into be where you are today.
After training we went back to the hotel and had some dinner and a team meeting directly after that with all of our coaches and our physiologist. We were instructed to fill out a “wellness paper” in the morning. The wellness paper had different columns asking about our level of soreness, level of stress, hours we slept, and fatigueness. These papers helped our trainers to communicate with the coaches how we were feeling and if we are well enough to play. Along with filling out the wellness paper, we had to have daily weigh-ins and hydration tests.
Everyday we had two sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening. All five of us goalkeepers would go with our goalkeeper trainer (Nicole Barnhart) before the team would start training. Monday morning was technical testing day. For the goalkeepers they tested mostly on distance and accuracy in the distribution category. Goal Kicks, punts, dropkicks, throws, and all around different types of distribution was judged. Juggling with both feet separately and together were tested as well. Switching between different tests, we had 10-15 balls kicked at us to test our footwork and our skill with our hands. I did pretty well overall in the testing. I placed number one out of the goalkeepers but there is a lot of room for improvement. Our second session that day was very light compared to what we did in the morning.
Friday we were supposed to play two SoCal teams but sadly we had flash flood warnings and 25 mph winds. Our games got moved to Thursday but the SoCal teams could not make it to Stubhub in the limited amount of time. We had an intense morning session on Thursday to prepare us for our scrimmage later on in the day. We ended up splitting the 40 girls into three teams and play 35 minute games against each other.
The speed of play throughout camp was very fast! The way that our team kept possession of the ball was phenomenal. One of our coaches, April Kater said, “The way you guys keep possession of the ball, looks like you have been playing together for 20 years, not just one week.” Each session no matter if we were with the team or just the goalkeepers, they were very intense, fast, and also really fun. Something I learned and was exaggerated at camp many times, was that you are going to fail. You are going to fail and without failing you won’t get better. You figure out your mistake and then fix it. “You are going to humiliate yourself, and you are going to have to laugh it off. Failure is on our journey” – Coach Mark Carr (Head coach). I realized throughout camp, it is okay to fail and you can’t control it. No one is perfect. As much as you don’t want to, you have to accept the goals that go in the back of your net. Something I do after I get scored on is think about my mistake and move past it. You can’t keep thinking about that goal the rest of the game because you then will not perform at your best.
I am extremely thankful and blessed for the opportunity given to me because not everyone is lucky enough to get this chance to shine. “This is your time to shine… shine bright like a diamond” -Coach Mark Carr. I have learned so much at this camp and realized that the smallest and tiniest things make a huge difference in your performance in practice and in games. I hope to be back soon to the training camps with the National Team. A group of players will be taken to Germany in November of 2017 to play a international friendly. My most priorital goal is to improve on my play to get better and to be one of the goalkeepers to get my first cap with the U-15 USWNT in Germany!
I am very appreciative to the Pleasanton Rage Organization as well as Cal North ODP for the opportunities and support they have given me. Special thanks to coaches; Ramiro Rodriguez, Kevin Whitehand, Darin Preszler, John Byford, Walter Pratte, Derrek Lesley, and to my personal coach Justin Rothling who has trained me since I was six years old.