By Tia Lynn Lecorchick
Morgan County High School’s resident soccer-star, Anslyn Stamps, 16, was chosen to be one of 25 players from across the state on the Olympic Development Program’s (ODP) Georgia State soccer team last month. Over 80 girls born in 1998 tried out for the team. Anslyn’s position is a forward and plays outside midfield.
“I’m one of the players that gets to score goals. It’s fun,” said Anslyn Stamps, now a junior at MCHS. “I love soccer,” said Anslyn Stamps. “I’ve been playing for years and this is really a dream come true.” “I am proud that her hard work has started to pay off. She still has a long way to go and a lot more goals she wants to reach, but this is one of those goals and she’s made it,” said Anne Stamps, Anslyn’s mother. “I’m very proud of her for making the team.”
The competition for the ODP state team was particularly steep this year. Anslyn tried out for the team last year when 40 girls were going to be kept, and didn’t make it. But her mom encouraged her to try again this year and not give up. “When I found out they were only keeping 25 girls this year, I figured there was no way I could make the team. But I did my best, and they picked me,” said Anslyn Stamps. “I am so excited.” ODP, an evaluating arm of US Soccer, selects the best youth players to recruit potential national players and provide valuable visibility opportunities for students to potentially further their college and professional sport careers.
The state team is the entry level for ODP player. Depending on how well they perform on the state team, players can be invited to a regional team and eventually, a national team that leads to the Olympics. Anslyn Stamps discovered her love of soccer through a serendipitous stroke of fate. At the young age of ten, after dabbling in basketball and softball, a close friend pleaded with Anslyn to join a recreational soccer team with the Rockdale Youth Soccer Association after another team member dropped out last minute.
“It was sort of by accident,” remembered Anne Stamps, the soccer coach at MCHS. “At that time, my husband, Crandall Stamps, and I had a background in baseball and softball. We weren’t interested in getting Anslyn into soccer.” However, before Anslyn’s first season was over, she realized she both loved soccer and had a rare talent for it.
“It’s just something I love to do, and if I get the opportunity, I would love to continue to do it in college, or even professionally,” said Anslyn Stamps. For Anslyn, soccer is all-year-round affair. She plays for various teams during the fall, winter, spring and summer. She currently plays soccer for the Inter Atlanta Futbol Club and will play for the MCHS soccer team when the season begins this spring.
Anslyn also attends soccer camps over the summer to maximize her practice-time and stay in shape. One of Anslyn’s proudest soccer moments was when the MCHS soccer team made the state championships last spring. “Only one other MCHS team besides us has ever made it that far before,” said Anslyn.
“That was our goal, to make it to the first round, and we did it. It felt great.” As with most worthwhile endeavors in life, with soccer, if there’s no pain, there’s no gain. Ansyln has endured a number of injuries since beginning her athletic career, including a broken collar bone, hurt knees, and a severe stomach injury.
“A girl kneed me so hard in the stomach that it bruised my diaphragm,” remembered Anslyn as she clutched her stomach. “It hurt so bad, I couldn’t breathe.” “It was definitely the scariest injury,” said Anne Stamps. “When we got to her, she was the color of this floor,” said Stamps while pointing to the bright white granite floor beneath her.
“It’s just part of the game,” said Anslyn. “You just gotta keep going on.” Practices for ODP have already begun and tournaments will kick off in December. Anslyn will compete in a serious of soccer tournaments staggered out through the rest of next year in hopes of being selected for the ODP’s regional team.
Anslyn is also headed to Miami, with Inter Atlanta Futbol Club for a big showcase tournament called the “The Orange Classic” later this year. Anslyn travels to Atlanta on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening for soccer practice and then competes in soccer games over the weekend all across the state.
While soccer consumes much of her free time, Anslyn is the average American teenager, who loves music and hanging out with friends. One of her favorite activities is going to concerts. She has an eclectic music taste, but country is her favorite. She’s seen Luke Bryan six times in concert. “I could go over and over again,” joked Anslyn.
“I really love music and just being with my friends. I don’t have a lot of time for other things, but I always make time for those two things,” said Anslyn Stamps. Anslyn is looking forward to her time to shine on the ODP and hopes it leads to more soccer opportunities. But making the state team will already boost Anslyn’s visibility and potential.
“Just the fact that she is on the OPD state team is huge. To be able to put that on your resume is a big deal. It opens up a lot of possible scholarship opportunities and chances for recruitment to college teams,” said Anne Stamps. “I will play my best and just enjoy meeting all the new people I get to see because of soccer,” said Anslyn Stamps.