When did you first start playing soccer?
"I started playing soccer when I was about 12."
Have you always played goal keeper?
"My first year was in the Starkville city league team and they moved everybody around. When it was my turn to play in the goal, I liked it. I was ok at it, so they left me there."
How long have you been starting for the Starkville Academy high school team?
"Since the 7th grade."
What honors have you earned during your career?
"For private schools they don't have All-State. All they have is All-Conference and I've made that four years. For cross country, I got (first-team) All-State my sophomore year."
What club team do you play with?
How long have you been playing for them?
"This will be my third year."
How much travel is involved with the club team?
"We play all year and go all over the place. We went to San Diego this summer. We've been to Washington, D.C. We've gone to Dallas and Houston a lot. We've also been to Austin (TX), North Carolina, Virginia."
When does your Mississippi United team practice?
"I go to Jackson (MS), Monday's, Thursday's and the weekend."
When do you play in your next tournament with the Mississippi United team?
"We have a couple of games on Halloween weekend, but our next big tournament will be in North Carolina on December 3rd."
Are you on any other soccer teams?
"I am on ODP (Olympic Development Program)."
When do you practice and play in tournaments with the ODP team?
"They don't practice that much. We probably have one two-a-days about once a month. We go to about two tournaments a month. They take the Mississippi team to camp and they pick players throughout our region to be on the Regional team. I'm on that also."
Was this the first time you were selected to the Regional team?
What was your reaction once you were selected?
"I was very, very happy. This was the third time that I had gone to camp and I hadn't made it before. This past year I had been working with (former MSU head soccer coach) Neal McGuire individually twice a week. He really made me a lot better than I was. I owe everything I am to him. He was also our ODP coach, so he was there with me the entire time. I wasn't nervous at all. I knew I was going to make it when I got there because he had done such a good job with me."
Did the selection committee explain what they liked about you?
"We had a little meeting with the goal keeper coaches before they selected us. They told us what we did good and what we didn't do. Then, the next day they put up a list of the people who were staying at the camp the next three days and the people who were going home.
"They liked the way I handle the ball. And they liked the whole mental thing. He said I need to work on my punt consistency. My goal kicks were pretty bad, but he didn't come out and say that. He said to work on those two things and to get stronger and faster."
Explain the Regional team in a little more detail, including how you are selected to it.
"There are 11 states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Every state can have two teams, but Mississippi only has one because it is a small state. Some have three. All of us go to camp in Alabama and play games against each other and practice in front of the regional coaches. They pick whomever they want out of it (for the Regional team). They don't have to pick a certain number from each state. There may be times when a state doesn't have anybody make it. Like Alabama didn't have anybody that made it."
How many Mississippi girls made the Regional team?
"From my age group there are three. It's me and two other girls that are also on my club team."
How many teams does each region have?
"There is one team per region. They have 4 goal keepers and I think 32 field players. They don't have to use all of the girls at the same time, so throughout the year they will call different people to come to different events."
Have you been selected to play in any of their tournaments?
"No I haven't been to any tournaments yet. It's normally in the spring when they have them."
Switching over to recruiting, since you are a junior this year, you can now receive letters from colleges. Which colleges are sending you letters?
"Texas was the very first one. They have sent a bunch of letters. They were preseason number 3, so that is pretty exciting. Neal McGuire is in Texas now. Others are Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, UCLA, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, Notre Dame, Cal State Fullerton, Iowa State, UMass and the Naval Academy."
Which schools are sending you handwritten letters?
"Texas, Iowa State, South Carolina and Ole Miss."
What schools have you camped at?
"I've been to Mississippi State a couple of times. And I've been to something called Soccer Plus, which is a goal keeper camp. The guy who coached the women's World Cup team when they won the World Cup in 1999 was the director of it. I also went to the University of North Carolina soccer camp. I got goal keeper of that camp. That was kind of cool because there were 50 goal keepers there."
Has North Carolina sent you letters?
"No sir. You pretty much have to be on the National team to go to North Carolina. They are so good it is ridiculous"
I know it's really early in the recruiting process, but what schools are you most interested in at this time?
"I am very interested in Texas. I am going on an unofficial visit to their Junior Night event October 22nd. I also like Notre Dame, UCLA, Stanford and Berkeley. All of the California schools. I would love to go to (Mississippi) State, but I want to leave Starkville. I'm really trying to keep my options open."
It sounds like you want to get away from home.
"Yes sir, definitely. I think it would be fun to get away from home and be able to see things in other places. You have to grow up sometime."
How well-rounded is this 16.5 year old youngster? She made the Headmaster's List (4.0 GPA, 26 ACT), has been selected to the Homecoming Court twice, and is a member of the Honors Society, FCA, Student Council and the Young Republicans club. Need I say more?-Gene
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.