I can’t believe I’m writing Ava’s Amazing 2019 – Year in Review, today. Where does the time go? Let me begin by saying 2019 has been a great soccer year, especially the second half!! Ava has really improved and developed as a young athlete. She’s had so many new soccer experiences this year so let’s get into them!
Ava started off in January by joining the Wilmington Hammerheads Juniors Program where she was placed on a U9 team called the Hotspurs. It was challenging as she sometimes played U10/U11 teams, however, it was a much-needed experience to help her grow. The season started out very cold and we were all thankful when it warmed up. We had to drive an hour each way, 2-3 times a week for practices and then additional weekend travel for games.
I’ll never forget her first goal in a Hammerheads game. It happened at the first Festival in Raleigh. Some back story first though. Ava had refused to score goals in games because she “didn’t want people that she didn’t know to clap or cheer for her.” The first few recreation games passed and she wouldn’t score, it was really unnerving. Everything was new with this club, she needed time to adapt and adjust and I guess this was just her way. Justin Moose, the club Director, gave us great advice and it eventually worked itself out. We were so proud of her when she made that shot. She’s a natural goal scorer – there was only so long she could fight the urge to take a shot.
Ava returned to Southwest Soccer Club and played U9 Lady Rockets. It was a rocky season, the team only winning about half their games. Ava had some issues with getting in her head a little too much and even had one or two break downs on the field when the games were really tough. She was really hard on herself and felt like she wasn’t good enough (which is blasphemy). Spring always seems to be her weaker season for performance, not exactly sure why. She persevered, as did the team, and they earned a second-place finish in the league championships.
Boro Blast Tournament
Ava and four other Lady Rockets teammates participated in this 4v4 tournament in Swansboro at the end of May. The tournament was co-ed but mostly made up of boys teams. There was an adjustment to new rules and I don’t think any of them had played 4v4 before so we didn’t do a lot of winning. Overall, a really fun experience just playing soccer and hanging out with friends for the day, good times.
Ava attended 6 different soccer camps all over NC this summer. Three camps were ones we had attended in 2018, two were new – with the Hammerheads, and one was hosted by an organization we decided to give a second chance to. I won’t go into detail about them all but you can read more about them here: Ava’s Summer Camps.
Kim Crabbe invited Ava’s family to the Women’s International Champions Cup in August, after meeting her during the Wrightsville Beach Camp. It was an incredible experience watching our first professional soccer game in person, not to mention we had VIP suite access. Kim arranged for Ava to juggle on the pitch during half time! It was unforgettable and we are so thankful for the opportunity. Ava got to meet Jessica McDonald and Crystal Dunn, who was so sweet and so positive.
Ava always goes into the fall season with a high level of performance. We think it’s because of all the soccer camps during the summer. She played with Southwest Soccer Club on a U9 team called the Lady Rockets. They had a very successful season, going undefeated until the Championship where they earned a second-place finish. Ava scored a record number of goals, including several outstanding free-kicks. This would be Ava’s best and last recreation soccer season in the USA.
Sidenote – The Hammerheads did ask Ava to come back and play but with the big move coming in December, we didn’t want to take the time commitment with all the travel. Little did we know the move was going to be pushed back… twice.
Ava played U8 with the Bulldogs for the New River (Military) League. Unfortunately, with the way it was set up this year and so few players, the league lacked challenge, competition, and sportsmanship. Therefore, she didn’t attend many games or practices. It was kind of a bust, a disappointment.
NC Courage vs Orlando Pride
In September we went to see NC Courage play against Orlando Pride. Ava really wants to meet Alex Morgan and she plays with Orlando. Much to our dismay, Alex did not play and was not even present at the stadium. NC Courage really whomped the Pride with a 6-1 win. Check out our blog post on that game here.
Champions Rise Here Clinic
In October, Ava attended the FREE Champions Rise Here Youth Soccer Clinic in Cary, NC. Ava received a (free) Champions Rise Here jersey that she was able to have signed by Shaka Hislop, ESPN Soccer Analyst. Nicole M. Hercules, owner of NMH Consulting and one of the organizers involved in this clinic, graciously gifted us with three tickets to the NWSL Championship which was the following day. Ava’s best friend and teammate, Scottlynn Chinn and her family also got tickets to attend.
The Championship game was between NC Courage and Chicago Red Stars. NC Courage won (obviously) 4-0 and it was magical – there were even fireworks! Ava had the opportunity to meet and get autographs from players like Abby Dahlkemper and Abby Erceg. I have to mention that this was Heather O’Reilly’s final NWSL game, as she is now retired.
Ava is currently involved with a 3 vs 3 Winter League, December through January, in Wilmington which is hosted by the Edge. Our Rockets are the only girls’ team and the only team coming from a recreation league. The other 3 teams are made up of boys who play in the Hammerheads Juniors (Academy) Program.
The important thing to know is that the team has improved each week and the girls always keep their heads up. This is a big growing and learning experience for them and I don’t think anyone regrets participating in the winter league. Check out some video clips from the games here.
Ava’s Training & Fitness
Ava has trained nearly every single day of 2019. There were probably only 5 days or less, where she didn’t train due to severe weather or illness. Ava became more committed to strength training this year. In the past, she would do some push-ups and lift a few weights here and there. However this year, she has had a dedicated workout plan that she maintains nearly every day, usually after soccer training. The workout includes (3 sets of 20) crunches, (3 sets of 5) push-ups, pull-ups, and weight training. She ends the year with a record of 211 juggles and 7 pull-ups.
Happy New Year
It’s been a great year with you all! Ava loves all her teammates, family and loyal supporters. Thanks for checking out Ava’s Year In Review! Can’t wait to see what’s next with the Spring season to be played in Okinawa, Japan!