Traveling more than two hours, one-way, approximately every three weeks for a soccer practice with a group of same-age girls that one doesn’t know, probably doesn’t top the average 13-year-old’s top-10 list of things to do on Saturday, but for Brookings resident Siena Worthey, it was all worth it.
Thirteen-year-old Siena Worthey juggles a ball in a field outside The Rink in Brookings. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
“Getting to learn high level skills that I wouldn’t get anywhere else was probably the best thing about it,” Worthey explained. “The experience of having such a high level trainer was great.
“My kick and my form have improved and it made me a better soccer player.”
Worthey was selected as one of 22 female soccer players to take part in the Oregon Olympic Development Program which, according to the ODP website, was “formed to identify a pool of players in each age group from which a national team could be selected for international competition.”
In addition, this program provides high-level training to benefit and enhance the development of players at all levels.
Worthey was one of just two Brookings’ athletes to attend the program this year.
Her classmate at Azalea Middle School, Alex Anaya, was selected for the boys’ program and practiced with a separate coach and team.
Reaching out beyond her personal comfort level was difficult, but well worth it, according to Worthey.
“Going by myself,” Worthey said when asked what the toughest part of the program was. “And being around girls that play year-round soccer, and are really skilled, was hard.”
The group of athletes was selected from the Southern Oregon region which spans the entire southern portion of Oregon south of a line drawn from Coos Bay to the eastern border that passes through Roseburg.
As Oregon law doesn’t allow for 13-year-olds to drive themselves, Siena was driven to practice every time by her mother Chaulene.
“By the end of the practices the travel was wearing on her,” Chaulene explained. “Between ODP and basketball and rec league, we were only spending about one weekend at home each month.”
On the bright side of the equation, she feels that they drew closer as a mother and daughter and that Siena really benefited from the experience.
“It helped her develop her skills and her confidence,” she said. “What she chooses to do with it is up to her, but I wanted to give her the opportunity.”
The selection process is intense and Siena was invited to try out for the program after she was noticed playing on the Brookings United Soccer Team at a valley tournament.
“They saw me playing on the team with all boys and invited me to try out,” she said.
According to Siena, the tryouts required each girl to show her skills in a variety of areas and then the practice worked on developing those skills.
When asked if she wanted to play Olympic-level soccer, Sienna was cautiously optimistic.
“I would love to,” she said. “I don’t know how practical it is, and I have academic goals that I want to achieve, too, but it would be fun.”