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Hoping to make a name for Grant County, four girls’ soccer players tried out for the Kentucky Olympic Development Program.
Grant County Middle School eighth graders Mollie Pelfrey and Bethany Lawrence were selected, along with Grant County High School freshmen Gwen MacAdams and Alexis Willen.
“I don’t think that anyone realized that Grant County has the talent that we have,” Melinda White, who coaches the GCHS and GCMS girls’ soccer teams, said. “They are competing against the best of the state. I’m not surprised that they made it. These girls have the type of talent to develop into players that can represent our region and our country, as long as they keep pushing themselves.”
According to the Kentucky Youth Soccer Web site, the Olympic Development Program (ODP) is a national program to identify and develop youth players to represent their state, region and country in soccer competitions.
The program has three goals which are to identify a pool of players in each age group from which a national team will be selected for international competition, to provide high-level training to benefit and enhance the development of players at all levels and through the use of carefully selected and licensed coaches, to develop a mechanism for the exchange of ideas and curriculum to improve all levels of coaching.
From the state pools and subsequent teams, players are identified for regional and national pools and teams.
“It’s exciting to know that you’re one of the top 40 girls in the state,” Lawrence said. “It’s an honor to be named to the team. We get to learn from the other girls on the team. We’re learning more about the game.”
“I thought it was overwhelming at first,” Willen said. “It gives me a big confidence boost because it’s supposed to be the best from Kentucky.”
The team that the girls were assigned to was based on the year they were born. Pelfrey (forward) and Lawrence (sweeper) play together for the 1996 team. MacAdams (midfielder) was selected to the 1995 team and Willen (sweeper) was chosen for the 1996 team.
The girls tried out for the program in October and November 2009.
Pelfrey, MacAdams and Willen were told about the program by White, while Lawrence heard about the program from an assistant coach, Christy Harrison, for her select team, Adena Futbol Club.
“I wanted to see if I could get better,” Pelfrey said.
“I tried out for it mainly because of the training because I knew that we would have good coaches and to see how I compared to the other girls in the state,” Lawrence said.
While Pelfrey and Lawrence knew each other, MacAdams and Willen had to go to the tryouts on their own, but they believe that helped them stand out because they wanted to show that they belonged.
“The tryouts were intimidating because I didn’t know anyone,” Willen said. “It was the best from the whole state. I had to go out and prove that I belonged there and that I was the best. I gave 100 percent the whole time.”
“Proving that we’re good enough to be there to the coaches and to the other players was tough, but because we didn’t know anyone, we were working on our own and it helped me stand out,” MacAdams said.
The girls were surprised to find out that they had made their teams and wanted to work hard with hopes of advancing to the regional and national teams.
“I was surprised because there were a lot of talented girls that were at the tryouts,” Pelfrey said. “I didn’t believe that I was going to make it. We have the chance to learn more skills and drills to help us get better.”
“I was surprised and excited,” MacAdams said. “I kept looking online for my name and I was shocked. Since it was my first year, I was proud to make the team.”
Pelfrey is the daughter of Melissa Sullivan and Steve Pelfrey. Lawrence is the daughter of Elizabeth Martin and Troy Lawrence. MacAdams is the daughter of Stephanie Sears and Stuart MacAdams. Willen is the daughter of John and Candie Willen.