2001 GODP Travel to Ventura, CA

Without the US Armed Forces, the world we live in would not be safe, comfortable or secure. Memorial Day weekend is an opportunity for reflection with family, relatives and close friends. Some people have a cookout for Memorial Day weekend. Others may just use the three-day weekend to relax or do odd jobs around the house. The top ‘01 girls soccer players in North Texas, however, spent their weekend in sunny Southern California testing their skills against some of the best ‘01 talent this country has to offer.

The trip began with a scenic ride from the LAX airport along the Pacific Coast Highway to the small coastal town of Oxnard, Calif. Many of you may be familiar with Oxnard, because it is where the Dallas Cowboys training camp is held. It was a different kind of football that brought these Texans, and many of their parents, to the sunny state for the Memorial Day weekend.

The entire 2001 GODP pool was polled for interest and availability. A team was selected from the results of the poll. Although we were not at full strength, we felt we could be competitive enough at this elite level of play. These girls represent many different club teams from the DFW area, so learning names was first on the agenda. The girls spent the first night acquainting themselves with one another. “Exciting Erin, Killer Katy, and Tilting TI” are just a few of the creative ways the girls made their introductions fun and memorable.

The first game of the weekend pitted North Texas against the top talent from Southern California. Cal-South was stacked with future regional and national team players. North Texas Director of Coaching Gary Williamson described the experience as, “walking on the moon.” He explained to the girls that until you experience it, you can’t really comprehend it. Having played as they did with self-discipline and teamwork, the girls developed as soccer players and were seasoned by the experience.

The girls spent the afternoon unwinding at the beach, although most were too fearful of the cold water to actually get in. The girls did participate in an unexpected mile jog cool down along the water’s edge as they followed a group of dolphins playfully breaching above the water. That night, the team was treated to authentic Mexican food, along with motivational talks from national team scouts and ESPN analyst Allen Hopkins. The second day closed with a productive meeting session with the team back at the hotel, where they broke apart their roles and functions as a unit, within their positions.

Sunday mornings are known for their slow pace and laid-back nature. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the North Texas ladies, as they jumped all over Northern California in a defensive and counter-attacking performance that proved most successful. Adrienne Romney played lights-out defensively, along with Payton Robertson, to preserve the shutout. Both North Texas goalkeepers, Emily Parrot and Sammy Brown, combined for the clean sheet. The North Texas breakthrough came in the 55th minute, when forward Haley Sorrell found a slicing Janna Singleton between two defenders. Singleton slotted her shot past the goalkeeper to give North Texas a 1-0 advantage that they would not relinquish.

The second game of the day and third game overall was against a skillful, one-touch-passing Colorado side who were up for playing their first game. The strong defensive unit of North Texas was put to the test. Colorado’s one -ouch passing and quick ball movement was held at bay until a diving header in the 58th minute broke the North Texas resolve. Playing well for North Texas were Piper Duncan, Titania Krumme and Cat Burrow. Arden Kadane put in a workman-like performance in the midfield, running tirelessly to deny several Colorado attacks. The best chance of the night for North Texas came off a cross to Jada Morrow, whose first-time shot was saved by the Colorado keeper.

North Texas recognized those Cal-South uniforms again for their last game of the Cal-South Pro+ Event, this time determined and prepared for a more flattering outcome. The girls were true to their word. Bailey Bylotas sliced and diced her way through the Cal-South defense. Caroline Hergenrether was the strength in the middle of the field that held the spine of the North Texas team together. Ashton Shiles delivered her custom pinpoint passes and Kylie Eckert showed that her soccer skills far outweighed her van singing (along with her DJ radio control) with her crunching tackles and blue collar approach to defending. Brooke Jones may barely be four feet tall, but she fought in the center of midfield like a giant, disrupting Cal-South attacks and dishing off passes to kick-start the counter. In the end, the game finished with a 3-0 Cal-South win, but the North Texas improvement over the weekend was evident for all in attendance, including national scouts, coaches and parents.

The girls capped off their weekend with a dip in the ocean … in full uniform and in high spirits. The girls battled hard all weekend and grew in confidence and expertise with each game. The trip came to an end with the players wishing it would continue. The results of the games will fade and the details will become blurry, but the memories made this weekend will last a lifetime. Keep an eye out for these 19 talented ’01 girls. They all have bright futures ahead of them.

Thank you for a truly unforgettable weekend, and a very special thank you to our ’01 GODP Team Admin, Cassandra Krumme, who had this to say:

“The improvement in the girls was immense! The main lesson for the girls was to get to know their teammates off the field. By doing that, they would have a better feel playing together on the field. Pictures are worth a thousand words and the pictures from the weekend speak volumes. The new friendships and Instagram connections will live long past the weekend. Each player came home from SoCal exhausted, but truly happy with her performance. There are many stories that have absolutely nothing to do with soccer. They also happen to be the funniest. Next time you see an ‘01G, ask about the dolphins, or the take-home package from Gladstone. Don’t forget the 'Climb the Dune' challenge.”

Without the parents, trips like this would not be possible. Their support, encouragement, and realistic expectations are greatly appreciated.

“This was the best trip ever,” said parent Shawn Sieracki. “I am thrilled that my daughter, Brenna, was a part of this trip. I know these memories will last these kids the rest of their lives. The coaches were fabulous, and spent a lot of time with the girls training, coaching and even allowing them to have fun. The girls really bonded on this trip. That was great to see.”

Parent Greg Sorell added: “Our family and Haley just wanted to say thank you again for an amazing trip we had this weekend; one that I know she will never forget. It was very special for Haley getting the opportunity to play in front of all her family and friends.”

A big thank you also to Shawn Morgan, ODP Administrator, and Christi Heady, Assistant ODP Administrator, at NTSSA for taking care of all the administrative details in order for the trip to go so smoothly, along with Dave Luckey, ODP Chairman, for his continued support to give our State Team players a complete soccer education, cherished memories and friendships that will last a lifetime as a result of North Texas ODP.

The sport of soccer gives us the opportunity to grow and develop as people. It also gives us the opportunity to compete and bond together. We have unbreakable friendships with each other through the moments we share both on and off the field. We are grateful to the U.S. Armed Forces on Memorial Day for our safety and freedom to play. We never forget these moments, as the lessons and the people we have played with will be some of the most meaningful of our life.

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