Waterloo girl has passion for soccer

Pictured is Sydney Stephens during a recent soccer match.

Soccer is already leading to some big opportunities for one Waterloo Junior High School student-athlete.

As a 13-year-old, Sydney Stephens’ skills have led to her traveling to Arizona this past weekend to compete in the id2 program. The training camp featured 55 girls from all across the country and was set up for players ages 14 and under to showcase their skills. They played against each other and received insight from the nation’s top coaches. U.S. Soccer staff was present as well.

“You go there and play in front of a bunch of national coaches,” Stephens said. “There were actually two there this weekend — Trisha and April Kater.”

Stephens didn’t just get up this past weekend and decide to go. She has been playing soccer nearly her entire life. Her main position is attacking midfielder.

“I started playing soccer when I was like 2,” Stephens said. “Actually, I started playing rec and little league when I was like 3. I also kind of kicked the ball around with my family. Then at 4, I got with a team, but nothing organized. It was with the Waterloo Sports Association. Then after that, when I was like 6, I tried out for St. Louis Scott Gallagher, so I’ve played for them my entire life.”

This past weekend’s camp will hopefully be one of many for Stephens. She has her hopes set on playing for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team and in college.

“My dream is to play for North Carolina for soccer,” Stephens said. “Obviously, in the long run, I’d like to play for the national team and in the World Cup.”
Playing for North Carolina wouldn’t be too shabby of a consolation prize — the Tar Heels have won 21 NCAA championships.

“North Carolina has just a really good program, and to me, it’s really a good campus and has some of the academics that I like,” Stephens said.

Soccer has ruled the Stephens family lives before Sydney played. Practice, games and tournaments have kept the family on the move. But that’s OK with them. After all, Monroe County’s soccer dominance has been established thanks to many soccer families just like theirs.

“It’s a huge time commitment, but we don’t look at it as a bad thing because we enjoy watching them play,” said Sally Stephens, the mother of Sydney and two other daughters. “It’s been fun to travel and see different places while they’re playing.”

Sally and Kris have been watching their daughters play soccer all their lives. Kate, 22, started playing as soon as she could. Her sisters Sydney, 13, and Alexis, 10, have followed suit. Alexis, like, Sydney, plays for St. Louis Scott Gallagher. However, she plays goalkeeper.

Sally said they’ve always enjoyed watching their family play soccer. She said she was happy Sydney’s dreams on the field have started to become a reality.

“This has been one of her dreams, to get to this level,” Sally said. “So, this weekend was a huge goal that was accomplished for her.”

But Sydney still has a few more years before she has to worry about colleges, or making the national team.

“Just to be with all my teammates and competing and having fun is probably my favorite part,” Sydney said. “Playing for Scott Gallagher, the players are so good and just being around everyone who is good at the sport is really fun.”

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