mackenzie gress

2004 girls academy

usynt camp jan 2020 &

usynt england trip feb 2020

Q: What was it like to play international matches in Europe?

A: I have always wanted to represent my country ever since I started playing soccer. To be able to play for the United States National Team in international matches was something I have worked towards for a long time. Playing against some of the best players in the World while being able to experience the European soccer atmosphere was amazing. Stepping onto the field with the US crest on my jersey and hearing the National Anthem play was one of the best moments of my life. My first international caps are something I will never forget and being able to have this experience has only driven me to continue developing so I can consistently perform at the World's highest level.

Q: What did you like most about the opportunity?

A: The best part of playing International matches in Europe was being able to play against the best competition in the World. The high level and professional atmosphere was both demanding and rewarding. The culture of the US National Team, the coaching staff and my teammates created a perfect atmosphere for me to thrive on and off the field.

Q: How has STA helped you prepare for this experience?

A: The coaches at STA have created an environment that is ideal for players to grow and develop physically, technically, tactically and mentally. STA has helped me strengthen all areas of my game and helped me become a better player and person. The coaching staff has supported me every step along the way by providing feedback, bringing out the best in me and allowing me to continue to evolve. The high level training pushes me to get better and has prepared me to excel amongst the top players in the country.

Q: How has playing in the Development Academy helped you prepare for this experience?

A: Playing in the Development Academy has prepared me for this experience by providing me with a high level environment and atmosphere. The training schedule and competition has pushed me to become a better player. Playing against the top teams in the country has shown me what it takes to play at a high level and allowed me to develop to be able to compete at that level. 

Q: Tell us a quick funny story about your experience with the US Youth National Team.

A: The rainy England weather made the fields that we were playing on really soft and easy to slip while playing. You definitely do not want to slip during a match so the equipment manager gave out studs to the team. He didn’t have any in my size since my feet are so big and he needed to order them since goalkeepers need good traction. The studs came in a day before game day so I was able to wear them during the game versus England. The next day at training the studs weren’t with the others and were nowhere to be found so I had to train without them. I was so nervous that they wouldn’t be able to find them for our last game versus Denmark that was going to be played in the pouring rain. Luckily they found my studs a few minutes before we went out for pregame warmups and I was able to play without sliding all over the place. If I didn’t have abnormally sized feet none of this would have happened!

Q: What was it like to get invited in to USYNT camp?

A: It was absolutely surreal! Since I was nine, I wanted to have a chance to play at the National level, so when I got called in, I was thrilled.

Q: What did you like most about the opportunity?

A: The players and coaches at the camp not only challenged your abilities and had great insight to improve your game, but they were all phenomenal people too. Having other players and coaches surrounding you that have similar aspirations automatically created a bond between us. Even though the camp was only a few days, I made friends that I'm still in touch with to this day, and it was exciting to reunite at showcases and games back with STA. That, and the unlimited food of course... 

Q: How has STA helped you prepare for this experience?

A:  The coaching staff at STA all have SO much to offer to your game and can always bring you to the next level. The coaching given by STA  was practically identical to that of the coaches at the camp, which lead to me feeling both prepared and confident, allowing me to play comfortably. STA gave me all of the resources I needed in order to play at the level the YNT coaches expected.

Q: How has playing in the Development Academy helped you prepare for this experience?

A:  The talent displayed by the other teams and players in the Development Academy forced my game to improve dramatically. I had never been so challenged by my opponents between their strength, speed, and skills. The majority of the players at the camp came from the Development Academy, so I was already familiar with the intensity of the players.

Q: Tell us a quick funny story about your experience with the US Youth National Camp.

A: We were required to take electrolyte fizzy tabs called Nuun. There were multiple different flavors to choose from, but the Nuun had already made its way around the other half of the camp, so my half was left with all of the bad flavors. Olivia Moultrie told me that when she doesn't like the flavor, she eats the tablet whole instead of dissolving it in water, so I did that too. I unexpectedly got called into my player coach meeting, and I went into it foaming at the mouth because of the fizzy component of the tab. There was so much foam, it was like I ate a bar of soap. I learned my lesson.....

Kyla holmes

2005 girls academy

usynt camp

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