April 19, 2007
Contributed by Melissa Wheeler, Florida State Sports Information
Tallahassee, Fla. - The Florida State Women's soccer team certainly achieved ample accomplishments over the last four seasons. Earning the opportunity to play in three of the last four College Cups, the Seminoles have grown to be one of the most competitive women's soccer programs in the nation. These achievements were significantly impacted through the individual growth and development of many of its players. Specifically, four individuals on the Seminole soccer team have exuded valuable leadership from their competitive experiences at the national level. Senior India Trotter has spent the spring competing with the Women's National Team. Similarly, freshman defender Becky Edwards earned a spot on the U-20 Youth National Team competing in numerous events this spring, as well. Sophomore Sarah Wagenfuhr also spent the spring and summer seasons competing around the world with the U-20 Youth National Team. Lastly, senior Kelly Rowland was able to complete her collegiate career with an invitation to train with the U-21 Youth National Team.
Trotter has undoubtedly made her mark at Florida State and now she is beginning to solidify herself as one of the best players in the country. Trotter has spent the spring traveling with the United States Women's National Team vying for a spot to play in the Women's World Cup in September 2007. In March, Trotter joined the group in Portugal where the team earned its fifth Algrave Cup title with a 2-0 win over Denmark.
As one of the youngest players on the squad, Trotter is maturing from her experiences and through the leadership of her veteran teammates.
"When you're playing with older players who are more experienced, you can't help but grow as a player on the field," said Trotter. "By taking in their knowledge and expertise of the game, you become more knowledgeable about the game, making you a better player on the field. Off the field, I've learned to cope with sacrifice. The fact that this is now a job for me has really changed my perspective. The biggest growth has been embracing my role as a professional and not just a college player."
Trotter is doing what countless young girls around the world dream of--playing soccer for their country. Her hard work and dedication throughout her soccer career, along with her exceptional athleticism and skill has helped her achieve her ultimate goal as a soccer player.
"It's a commitment. It can be very fun at times and very toilsome at times, but knowing that you're playing for your country and that you are one of the very few that get to experience what you have always dreamed about, reminds you that it is all worthwhile," Trotter said.
Edwards has also spent a good portion of her spring with the nation's elite youth soccer players. Edwards initially traveled to Los Angeles, Calif., to take part in the first training camp for the U-20 Youth National Team in preparation for the Youth World Championships coming up in the summer of 2008 in Chilé. Edwards was one of only 30 players invited to the training camp, where she competed against a youth boy's team and a pair of women's collegiate teams in UCLA and Loyola Marymount University.
Following that trip, Edwards was one of 18 players invited to rejoin the team in Toluca, Mexico to play the full Mexican Women's National Team in two matches. Although the team dropped both games to Mexico, 1-0 and 4-2, it was this event that Edwards found to be the most memorable.
"I thought the trip to Mexico was the best experience," explained Edwards. "We got to play against the full Mexican National Team, and that was a cool experience within itself. They are preparing for the World Cup, so it was neat to see how our team matched up to the older players and to see how I, individually, compared to some of the best players in the world. Also, the culture and people of the country were very cool and friendly."
Her last trip this spring was to College Station Texas to play three games against Brigham Young University, Southern Methodist University, and Texas A&M.
With all of these opportunities to play at a high level of competition, Edwards has noticed a change in her development on and off the field.
"On the field, this experience has helped speed up my game. I play in the midfield with the national team and played in the back for Florida State this past season. So, I definitely had to get up and down the field quicker. The speed and athleticism of the athletes on the national team is at a high level; therefore, I had to be able to play quickly and be strong in winning balls. Off the field, I met so many new people from all over the country who are now very good friends of mine. Since I am one of the older players, I had to step up as a leader, which is somewhat out of my comfort zone. This newfound leadership role will help me at FSU as well because I am going to come back with more confidence," Edwards said.
After Rowland's outstanding senior season, she was invited to train with the U-21 Youth National Team at their training camp in Los Angeles, Calif. There she trained and competed with various youth players from around the country.
"The most exciting thing was getting to play with a lot of different players from around the country that I have played with and against growing up," Rowland said. "I became pretty good friends with a couple of the girls and it was a lot of fun. I also think getting a chance to play against the US Women's National Team was also a highlight. We got to attend the US Men's National Team game as well. A couple of us from the U-21's were in the training room and even got to meet Landon Donavan before a practice, which was an experience within itself."
Facing tough competition, Rowland was able to step up her game and increase her level of play as well. While out in Los Angeles, Rowland had the opportunity to compete against her roommate and teammate, India Trotter.
"I think my time with the national team helped me develop as a person and a player because you are invited to travel all the way out to Los Angeles. where you are out of your comfort zone and it is definitely an intimidating feeling when you first get there. Obviously, I think as a player it's hard to not get better considering you are playing with the best players in the country. We also got the chance to play the US Women's National Team so it was kind of funny getting to play against India for a game," Rowland said.
Sophomore Sarah Wagenfuhr traveled the world last spring and summer with the U-20 Youth National Team competing at numerous events in various countries such as Brazil and Russia. Her experiences with the team helped her grow as both a soccer player and a team leader. The high-level of play she was matched up against helped her prepare for the intense competition she would face in the future with the FSU women's soccer program.
"Playing with the national team made me learn to handle competition a lot better. It made me learn that you can never be secure with where you are at, because there are always people trying to beat you out," Wagenfuhr said.
Wagenfuhr was also able to use her experiences to mature as a leader. Her growth in that area has helped her earn the role as co-captain of the Florida State squad for the upcoming 2007 fall season. Her teammates respect her because of the hard work and dedication she exemplifies on and off the field.
"Playing with the U-20 team also made me into a better leader. I learned to lead by example more than anything," Wagenfuhr said.
These four young Seminoles have experienced what very few young soccer players will ever get the opportunity to be a part of. Their accomplishment of competing for their country is an irreplaceable honor that they will always remember and appreciate forever.