by Dave Warner

Sophomore Olivia Lindsay has been selected to the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP) regional pool and has also been selected to participate in the US Youth Soccer ODP National Training Camp being held in Tampa Florida January 23-28, 2020.

US Youth Soccer currently has more than 3,000,000 registered children and it is the largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body for soccer in the United States, comprised of over 600,000 volunteers and administrators, and over 300,000 dedicated coaches, most of whom are volunteers.

For this event, the top 23 players in the country in their age group will be participating. Those players will be evaluated during the camp by regional staff and the ODP scouting network. The event is designed to showcase the participant’s talents while providing high-level training and top-level competition.

Olivia has always been around sports since she was a little girl. “My mom played soccer, my dad played sports and I’ve just kind of followed their lead. It’s always been a part of our family and my life.”

She said that growing up, she had tried softball, but “it just wasn’t my thing. It was mostly just basketball and soccer after that.”

Olivia said that the last couple of years have been really special for her.

Her mom is Maria Lindsay, principal of the Little Falls Middle School. She said, “She was selected from her state team and then selected for the East regional team.” The regional players from all around the country went to Boca Raton Florida and played against each other.

“She was one of the 23 that were selected from all of the regions in the US to go to this national camp and the Olympic Development Program,” said Maria.

Olivia said that she plays outside back in ODP. “I love to go up the field and attack and I think that there is somewhat of a spark that I create on offense just trying to get up the field…trying to create some offense for our team.”

According to her mom, Olivia is better than she had ever dreamed of being when she played soccer. “Mom deals with soccer, dad deals with basketball,” said Maria.

Olivia plays basketball as well, but soccer is where her real passion is and what she hopes to do during her college years. “I love soccer and it’s what I’ve been dreaming of playing in college.”

She’s looking at several colleges already, including Northwestern and NC State. To play at the college level “has been her dream since she was ‘this tall’ so we’ll support her in whichever school she chooses,” said Maria. “We’ve always instilled in our kids that you’ve got one chance at this so if you have a dream, go after it, and we’ll support you.”

“Through it all, I just think the biggest thing is the experiences that she’s been able to have through soccer. The opportunities, the places that we’ve traveled to as a family, plus the places that she’s traveled to independently. Those are things that regardless of what happens in the future, she’ll never have those taken away. The friendships, the coaches that she’s had, have helped shape her as a person,” she said.

Her basketball coach, Pam Munger said, “It’s such an honor. When she’s with me, she gives me 110% and you wouldn’t know that soccer is her passion, her love, because she plays hard for me. I know she works so hard in her off-season so that she can do well in soccer. This is a kid who’s chasing her dream and I get goosebumps because I feel that every single step she accomplishes is one more step closer to her dream.”

“I just told her I want a ticket on the sideline of wherever she ends up playing. As a basketball coach, I’m proud of her. Any coach that gets her is going to get one gem,” said the Coach. “If I can be the person that helped them have their drive and their passion for what they’re doing, then I’ve done my job.”

From the parenting side, Maria says, “She’s honored to be selected for these things and we’re doing what we can to support her and make sure that she can get to the level that she’s working to get to. There’s a lot of competition and there’s a lot of great soccer players. She’s got to work for every level that she’s been able to get to.”

College coaches have been on the sideline of the games taking notes, and in Tampa, they’ll be doing that again. “It’s a great opportunity for college coaches to see her as well. So it wasn’t just about the Olympic piece at Boca.”

The camp in Tampa has another purpose, where the participants will be evaluated to go to the next level, which is another training camp in California. “From there, it would be playing for the U16 US National Team,” said Maria.

Olivia says that she is just taking it one step at a time. “I’m hoping to go to college first and then we’ll see what opportunities that brings.”