For a Surfside resident on the U.S. U17 women’s national soccer team, Laurel Ivory is ready to take the field in Jordan for the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup.
Ivory, a goalkeeper, says it’s a moment she and her teammates have been dreaming about since they were young girls.
“As a team and individually, I think we’re feeling pretty confident,” Ivory explains during a phone interview last week. “We came off a really, really good camp a week and a half ago in Sarasota, Florida.”
Ivory, 17, is excited to represent the United States in the Middle East.
The U.S. women will be facing different styles of play in Group D during the World Cup, with Ghana, Japan and Paraguay as the first set of obstacles to a world title. The team kicks off against Paraguay on Oct. 1 at Prince Mohammed International Stadium in Al Zarqa, Jordan.
“Everybody’s feeling really good. I know our mindsets in a really good place,” Ivory said. “I know that I’m putting myself in the best possible position through working out, my drills, my training and especially the way I’ve been eating and the way I’ve been focused and realizing that we are a couple days out from leaving.”
The U.S. U17 women’s team didn’t qualify for the World Cup in 2012, so this 2016 team, coached by B.J. Snow, is aiming for the world title. While trying to attain that goal, Ivory’s parents, Chris and Jackie, will be cheering her from the stands of various stadiums in Jordan.
To prepare, the players are serious about their meals and a tough training schedule.
“I train a lot during school,” she said, “so I’ll try and get a nice good breakfast in, which includes at least carbs, protein, something like that, fruit; and then I’ll be going to one or two classes; then I jump right onto the field and get my training in.”
Ivory focuses on three small meals a day with snacks in between to maintain energy. She is tackling the virtual classroom experience as a high school student competing at the national team level. A junior, she’s also taking three classes at Miami Country Day School in Miami Shores and competes for the school’s girls’ soccer team.
“Some of us really struggle with handling the schoolwork we’re given, and thank God for my school,” she said. “My school has been so cooperative in everything that I’ve been throwing at them these past two years -- between being gone for a week out of every single month and then slowly progressing to two weeks out of every single month; and that’s missing whole entire class days.”
Ivory, a member of the Sunrise Sting SC, is also looking forward to her college years. She will be attending the University of Virginia in 2018, joining its women’s soccer program.
“When I stepped foot in Virginia, I knew it was home,” she noted.
As for these upcoming games, music will play an important part in the pre-game preparation just like with any other match. Ivory says some of the tunes to get her in the zone include “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes, “I Love It When You Cry” by Steve Aoki and “The Lightning Strike” by Snow Patrol.
*Writer Jillian Angeline is an AIPS Young Reporter.