Traveling around the world soccer style
Donna Lounsbury likes to play soccer so much she's traveling around the world to do so.
On July 1, the 13-year-old Eudora resident will leave for 16 days to play in a soccer tournament in Australia. Lounsbury will play alongside 31 Americans against an Australian team in the People for People Sports Ambassador Program. The program dates back to 1956, when People for People was founded by President Dwight Eisenhower. It aims to help youths build relationships with athletes from other countries.
The Americans will be broken into a varsity and junior varsity teams. The girls will first travel to New Zealand where it will train for the upcoming Australia tourney.
Lounsbury said she's excited about spending more than two weeks with new friends in another country playing the sport she loves. The selection ordeal wasn't easy, she said.
"I had to go through a long tryout process to get on here," she said.
A coach submitted an anonymous recommendation for her to participate in the program. Next, a scout was sent to evaluate her play in the Eudora Soccer Club, where Lounsbury is a member. Finally, a phone interview was conducted before she scored the final goal: being on the international team.
"The only nervous part was when I was interviewing," she said. "I was shaking. The coach that interviewed me said he needed to interview 500 more girls in the next two days."
To prepare for the upcoming event, the sweeper has done little to deviate from her routine. She practices with neighbors and spends time working on her dribbling techniques in her yard. The eighth grader said she's been playing soccer since the second grade.
Lounsbury has already virtually met some of her teammates. "We e-mail each other all the time so that we know each other before we go and play," she said.
Lounsbury said she plans on playing as long as she can and will try out for a Lawrence-based community soccer team, the Dynamos. While this star can travel the globe to play soccer, since Eudora High doesn't have a team, she isn't able to play here at home. "I wish I could play in high school," she said. "I wish they had a team."