Stephanie Sparkowski has been a member of the Long Island Rough Riders for a number of years. Stephanie was recently invited to the US National Camp for further evaluation. She went to camp in March and again in July. Stephanie wrote about her experience at the US National Camp and all of the lessons she learned. We are very proud of Stephanie Sparkowski at the Long Island Rough Riders.
By Stephanie Sparkowski
This was my second youth US National Camp. There were 36 players at this camp. Of these 36 there were 27 returning players and 9 new players. I was one of three returning keepers with one new keeper out of the six keepers at the first camp.
It was a great experience that I will always remember. Since I was returning along with 26 other players, I was fortunate enough to see a lot of my friends from my first camp, but also make many new friends that I still keep in touch with! We did a lot of team bonding throughout the week to make a sense of family. Along with team bonding, the training was phenomenal and I was able to learn so much. From all the information I received I became a much better goalkeeper and I will be able to apply the information to my game forever.
All of the coaches were amazing, especially our head coach April Kater, and they were great role models to look up to. April held at least two meetings most days. In those meetings I learned a lot and felt a sense of community. One saying that April stressed all week that will stick with me forever is “Be a good person first, and a good soccer player second”. That is a saying that I can use for the rest of my life. Also in those meetings and throughout camp we were all connected because all of our goals are the same. We are striving to become better. It was cool knowing that you were in a room, or on a field, that less than 1% of people in the country could be in.
Overall the week was a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun with my returning friends, new friends and just being able to train with the best in the country. It’s always a surreal experience that you can’t take for granted. You have to live in the moment and enjoy it because you don’t know when your next chance will be.
We wish her the best of luck and hopefully she gets invited back to the next National Camp!