The Soccer Commitment Conflict

UPDATE: Laurel Ivory and the Team USA Under 17 Women’s National soccer team will play their first game (vs. England) on Thursday, February 11th at 9 PM ET. Here is the link to watch the games this week.

Laurel Ivory beside some fans after making it to the FHSAA 1A State Championship for the first time in school history.

After a week of rigorous and grueling soccer practices with the Team USA Under 17 Women’s National soccer team, sophomore goalkeeper, Laurel Ivory, hops off the plane from Carson, California spent and exhausted. This marks the beginning of a ten-day waiting period Ivory must endure before being permitted by Team USA to play soccer for the Miami Country Day School team. So begins the commitment controversy that troubles the MCDS Girls Soccer team.

“If you have aspirations to continuously make the team, it’s all you have to do, it’s all you have to think, it’s all you have to breathe and focus on,” says Ivory. “Everything soccer wise has to be around your training and preparations for the camps, and getting the opportunity to get in front of national team coaches.” Ivory knows that her school teammates are missing her presence on the field, but the brutal and demanding commitment of playing for the Under 17 Women’s National team has been her dream for a long time. “I have to admit that it’s really disruptive. I don’t feel great not being able to play with them, but it’s been my dream to make the [Team USA] roster for four years now and I won’t let anything stop me from making this roster and representing my country,” Ivory explains about the humbling opportunity to represent her country. “I know it’s disruptive and demanding, but hopefully next season will be much better because the world cup will be over.”

Ivory’s teammates have mixed feelings on the matter. “Since National camp happens about once a month, she misses a lot of our games,” exclaims sophomore sweeper, Danielle Geathers on Ivory. “It’s different because you need to depend on her but you can’t because there are some games when you’re not going to have her, so you need to be ready to play without her.”

The girls, posting an 11-6 record so far this season, have definitely missed their goalkeeper; five out of their six of their losses have come in games where Ivory did not play. Some of the players have gone as far as to make the argument that the team would not have lost those five games had Ivory been able to play. “She brings experience and leadership that pushes our team to be our very best,” claims sophomore outside left midfielder, Carly Garazi. “Most of our losses were by one or 2 goals, and Laurel is usually able to make those game changing saves.”

Although it must be challenging to be missing a key player and star on the team at times, Head Coach, Kyllene Carter Weiss, and the rest of Ivory’s MCDS teammates give Ivory unconditional love and support in her soccer endeavors and in reaching her goals of being an exceptional player. “I feel that the team is very, very supportive of Laurel,” declares Coach Weiss. “We’re very proud that she’s going to represent the United States one day in soccer, that’s just a phenomenal feat.” The players on the team can understand Ivory’s decisions, knowing that being able to represent your country is a tremendous and humbling honor. “It’s an amazing opportunity she has,” says teammate Danielle Geathers. “If we had this opportunity, we’d be doing the same thing, so we’re very proud of her, but obviously we wish she could be with us.”

Already committed to the University of Virginia, Ivory is not the only player on the MCDS Girl’s Varsity Soccer team with aspirations to play college ball. As a result of this, several other girls on the team play for demanding club teams, and like Ivory, have a conflict of commitment. “School is more to make your school proud, but club is year round and is where college coaches can see you, so most of your priorities are going to showcases,” says Danielle Geathers, who hopes to someday play college ball. Head Coach of the MCDS Boy’s Soccer Team, Jeff Watson, disagrees with Geathers, and thinks that playing for your school can be just as helpful in the process of getting recruited by a college as playing for a club team. “When you play club, you usually play at one age level; in college there’s four different age levels, if you’re a freshmen you’ll have to play against seniors. So it helps a lot to play for a good high school team.”

Coach Weiss recognizes that there are cons of this situation, but still remains cool, calm, and collected, while continuing to support her players. “One con would be that their other commitments outside of the school season take away from our team because we can’t practice as much,” says Weiss. “They’re going to other practices, they’re playing tournaments, they’re going to get overused and very, very tired. I try to not have as many practices, but then that takes away from [team chemistry]. We’re lacking a lot of team chemistry. I’m a big proponent of team chemistry, and that’s negative when you don’t have all your players at a practice.” Although the team’s main priority is to avenge last year’s loss in the State semifinals and win a State Championship, Coach Weiss supports the girls’ individual success as well. “I encourage them to play club because if they do have aspirations to play in college (division I, division II), playing Miami Country Day soccer isn’t going to get them there.”
Here is the schedule for the games rest of the week: