"My plan for the future is to be an Olympic gold medalist," Ava Veith said in an interview with the Lake Placid News and The Virginia Gazette. "That is my dream and my goal. I daydream about that moment. Once I retire, I will try to get a job as a soccer coach for girls. Once I get older, I will write a book about my soccer career."
Ava, 12 years old, is a student at the Yorktown Middle School and an illustrious member of the TSA Sharks Soccer Club in Virginia. She was recently selected to go to England for training at the famous Wolves Academy.
"When the coach came from England and told me that I would have the opportunity to go play there, I was so excited," Ava recalled. "I impressed him. When we scrimmaged, the coach was the goalie for the other team. I was really on my game, and I was banging in goals over and over again. Then I got invited to the national camp in Georgia. There where tons of kids there. I did very well and learned a lot. A few weeks later, I got my evaluation, and I couldn't believe I made it to England! I had a wonderful experience there."
Photo courtesy of Frank Shatz
Ava Veith plays soccer.
She learned many new tricks to practice at home, new and better techniques to volley a ball.
"When you do a volley, the ball is usually in the air," she said. "Then you have to tap or strike the ball, depending if you are making a pass or a shot to your target, using the inside, outside and laces of your foot. In England, I also improved my game by playing against some of the best soccer players not only in the United States but also in Canada. We also trained with players our age from England. They taught us different techniques about how to play."
Ava chose soccer as a competitive sport at an early age.
"When I was little, I was inspired by many famous soccer players," she said. "My favorite is Mia Hamm. I want to be just like her one day. As I got older, I would go and research good training drills that would help me with my weaknesses, and would practice them in the front yard."
I asked her, what are the qualities that made her so good at this sport.
"I think it is my love for the game and my desire to get better at it. I also practice as much as I can at home and at team practices. Whenever I play, I put is as much effort as possible. I practice on my weaknesses. I also have very good physical ability. I am able to run fast for long period of time."
Apparently Ava had good role models, in her parents, to strive to succeed in whatever she does. Her father, John, was once a sailor on the aircraft carrier George Washington. He is now working in maintenance at Anheuser-Busch. Her mother, Janet, is a manger at Printpack in Williamsburg.
Ava has developed her own "philosophy" on how to make an outstanding soccer player.
"You always have to treat everything, including a day out in the yard, like it is a national team tryout. Because then you get something out of it that will make you better as a player. Another thing that makes you a better player is to listen to your coach and have work ethic."
Although the first organized women's soccer matches took place in the United States only in the 1970s, the United States is now regarded as one of the top countries in the world for women's soccer. Despite the consistent success of the national team, it has struggled to maintain fan interest outside of major tournaments. Nevertheless, America's approach to promote the game among women is serving as a model for other countries' development programs.
Frank Shatz lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Lake Placid. His column was reprinted with permission from The Virginia Gazette.