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Tryout in Potsdam by Josie Price

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It all started at a table in Tim Horton's 9 month ago. I was meeting Henry, my coach from High Performance Soccer Academy, as he had something to tell me. Between coffee and donuts, the meeting started and Henry said three words formulated into a question that impacted my life from that day on: "Professional, soccer and Germany". In a million years I would have never thought these words would ever have been said to my face…but it was true. Henry was asking me if I wanted to try out for a women's professional soccer team in Germany. Women's professional soccer? Are you serious? Do I really have that potential? I had so many questions to ask, so much to understand, but instead of pinching myself to see if this was a dream, I jumped at the opportunity and without hesitation I accepted the challenge.

The first three months were the most stressful, busiest month of my life. This new goal I decided to take on distracted me from school, family and friends. I was constantly thinking about the time running out and how much I needed to improve before May 2009.
Before I started making soccer my number one priority, I had to sit down and plan, as I had three very important diplomas to write. Henry, my family and I developed a new system of planning to stay on track for the upcoming months. We decided to take one month at a time, planning and only making commitments that we knew wouldn't jeopardize my school marks. We had monthly meetings to discuss my improvement and what I needed to work on for the following month.

I began training with the U16 Gunners team 3 times a week. Henry thought training with the boy's team would be a great challenge for me, and he was right. I improved tremendously in the first 2 months. Training with the Gunners was a great way for me to increase my speed of play and helped build my confidence. I started to work on individual training as well and my shots, dribbling and moves became increasingly better. All of this extra training was hard work for sure but after seeing the results and personally feeling the improvement, I was excited and motivated to keep Training!

As each month passed, I trained harder and harder. Once diplomas were over, soccer became my number one priority. My friends and family were extremely supportive. They knew how important this tryout was to me and helped me with every step.  My friends understood that I didn't have time for a social life and my family began to understand how important food, hot tubs and sleep were to me.  This journey clip_image002that I decided to take on was a bumpy one for sure. Along with all this extra training, came the stress of not being prepared and ready in time. I constantly thought about time running out and all the other unknowns in my life. I did not know if I was going to be ready and I had no idea what the soccer would be like over in Germany.  I have always wanted to play soccer for a university team in the USA and it was now my back up plan if Germany didn't work out.  I had three big trips planned before I left for Germany. In March, I was going down to California to visit a university and practice with the varsity team. In April I was travelling with my coach Goran Buconjic and my Willowridge soccer team to Dallas for a soccer tournament and from there, I had a visit scheduled to Brownsville, Texas to check out another university.  A lot of traveling but all three trips were great experiences.  Travelling and competing with my club team and working with my coach helped me tremendously as well.
About, 5 months in, I met an amazing woman by the name of Lorie Pulliam. I would not have done so well in Germany if it wasn't for her. Lorie worked with me on my mental preparation throughout my training. She helped me believe in myself, gain confidence and overcome many obstacles. For example, I came back from the University in California with a lot less confidence then when I left. I didn't feel I had a positive experience. I didn't feel confident about how I trained with the team and I didn't understand how Henry thought I could train with a professional team in Germany when I wasn't even able to impress this university coach. With the help of Lorie, I was able to turn this experience around and learn from it. Not only did Lorie help me with this trip, but she encouraged me to practice and play every game as if it was my tryout in Germany. In Dallas, this is exactly what I did and I had the game of my life. Lorie is an incredible woman and I have learned so much and grown so much because of her.

I was so excited and motivated during the last couple month to be the best I can be, I decided to train as much as possible. I couldn't get enough of soccer! I trained during school on the football field, at home in my backyard, I worked on pace, acceleration, speed and stamina with Henry. Henry and I even analyzed soccer games on T.V.  Pretty soon I was training nine times a week and still couldn't get enough soccer. My biggest fear was going over to Germany and not being ready or able to compete and falling behind. Henry was really understanding about this and when he saw that I was questioning my ability, he asked me one question,
"Josie, do you trust me?" I did trust Henry, how could I not. He was the one person who believed in me and had dedicated so much of his time. Henry had so much confidence in me and always told me how well I was doing. I had to trust him. Without that trust, I would not have been able to achieve as much as I did.
As time ran out and the tryout became closer and closer, Henry made sure that the last couple weeks were exciting, positive and enjoyable. The last thing Henry and I needed to do was undermine all the progress we had made and fall into the trap of questioning my ability.  Henry, Lorie and I worked together to ensure that I trusted them and myself and that I knew I was ready, that I was more than ready. I had trained so hard and sacrificed so much, I was prepared!

We started to Germany early in the morning. It was Sunday, the 10th of May and the night before I had my graduation party, not too much time to sleep.
We arrived in Potsdam the next day and went to the hotel. I used the afternoon for a little workout, stretch, run and some kicks.
Tuesday we went in the morning to the office of 1.FFC Turbine Potsdam. We met the head coach, the assistant coach and the manager.  The head coach, Mr. Bernd Schroeder had set up the training sessions and schedule for me.  In the afternoon I practiced with the U17 team the present World Champion of Schools.  Most of the players live right at the sport school facilities and were selected from the province of Brandenburg with one player from South Africa.

I was surprised that I was able compete at the level technically, tactically and physically.  We scrimmaged on a shortened field, and I felt a part of the game from the beginning and scored several goals.  As I was on the level of the top players of this group (all youth national team players of Germany) the coach invited me to train Wednesdaclip_image003y with the U23 women's team which plays in the 2. Bundesliga.
It was an amazing chance for me to experience this caliber of play and workout with excellent players and in front of this national class set of coaches. It was also a lot of fun to have the opportunity to go through the paces with players who are so focused and skilled.  I really enjoyed all my practices while in Potsdam.  Practices over there have a completely different level of intensity and speed than I have experienced.  Every practice included game play with players strong on the ball and the play was very aggressive but not chippy at all like we see in Canada.  I did not see one injury during any of the sessions and games.   The players at this club have great facilities, demanding coaches and are dedicated to soccer.  Of course they have fun but no one fools around and they push each other to get better.  It was a great training environment for the week I was there and these players train like this year around. Each day and each session I felt more and more comfortable and now I realize that I know I was totally prepared for the training and the levels I was challenged to play to. Thanks to Henry for preparing through months of training sessions, for believing in me and for the opportunity to find out for myself that I can reach the best international level of soccer.

After we completed the training in Potsdam we travelclip_image004led to Frankfurt/Main to watch professional game between the defending German champion FFC Frankfurt and 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam.  Over 2000 fans at the stadium enjoyed the world class soccer game. It was an amazing game and Potsdam won 2:1, maintaining the chance to win the league and earned a spot in the cup final as well.
I know that I have to continue to work very hard, I need to develop more power and I must get more game experience to get to this level.  I have a dream…I want to go back and play in this league!  Potsdam will give me the opportunity.

Josie Price
WRC Mustang