A CalSouth.com Exclusive: AN INTERVIEW WITH U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM STAR AMY RODRIGUEZ
June 24, 2011
Interview by Joe Curley
Cal South has four alumni on the U.S. Women's National Team competing in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, which begins play this Sunday, June 26. The U.S Women take the field against North Korea on Tuesday, June 28 in their first opening round match. As a preview for the Women's World Cup, CalSouth.com conducted interviews with three of those alumni: Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez and Shannon Boxx. The Morgan interview was published a couple of weeks ago [click here to read it], and we will be posting Boxx's interview on Monday.
A major success story thus far with the WNT and in Women's Professional Soccer, Cal South alumnus Amy Rodriguez developed into the top recruit in the nation for the Class of 2005 at Santa Margarita High, winning the Gatorade and Parade Player of the Year awards. Known popularly as "A-Rod," she led USC to its first national championship in 2007 and assisted on the gold medal-winning goal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She is so excited about making her FIFA Women's World Cup debut with the United States Women's National Team this summer that she spoke to Cal South Magazine about it.
Cal South: What type of role did Cal South ODP play in your development?
Amy Rodriguez: I still remember getting my first invitation to my first Cal South training camp. I remember thinking "This is such an honor." I was so excited to be selected to play. I'm not sure how the system is run now, but it was so selective and a big deal if you were invited in. I had a great experience. I played under Billy McNicol for a few years and really enjoyed it. It really opened up a lot of doors for me. It all started for me basically in Cal South.
CS: How have you seen the women's game change during your career?
AR: Growing up, development wasn't as big a deal. The kids these days are in a little bit of an advantage. There's a lot more attention paid to developing technically and making sure to work on their skills and their ability to read the game. I wish that I had a little bit more development as a kid. I think what's gotten me this far is, I would just say, natural ability. I wish I had more of technical development involved in my soccer training. I think the kids now, with the development process, the kids are able to juggle and get a feel for the ball. I had to learn that at a later age and it's always harder to develop habits or skills at a later age.
CS: You're just a few days away from flying across the world to play in your first Women's World Cup. What's that feel like?
AR: It's great. I'm on the cusp of playing in this amazing tournament. I told someone the other day that I've been working to make this roster for a year and a half. Having made the team and knowing I'm going to go to Germany is very exciting. I came from a small community. I've always tried to play soccer for fun because I've really enjoyed it and now… now it's paid off.
CS: You're only 24, but you've been with the Women's National Team for six years. What stage of your career do you feel like you're in? Do you consider yourself a veteran?
AR: I'm having fun. It's taken a lot of years to get where I'm at. At 16, I felt like I had potential. My main goal was to go to college and get a scholarship. I was in and out of the youth national team. I was trying to make the Olympic roster. The last three years, I've been able to play professionally, which is a completely different mentality. It's almost like a hobby as a kid. When I went to college, it became a competitive sport. You're fighting for your sport, your coach's approval. Moving on to a professional team, it brought on a different mentality. This is my job. I perform and I entertain for the fans. It's how I'm going to survive in the world. I think I'm in a great situation. This all started out as a fun game for me and it's really just an added bonus. I'd still do it for free.
CS: Speaking of Women's Pro Soccer and your role with the Philadelphia Independence, how important do you feel the WPS is to the women's game in this country?
AR: I think that, by far, we have the best professional league in the world, including the German and Swedish leagues. We have the best competition. It's important for the American girls, this is how a lot of national players get noticed. [WNT teammate] Shannon Boxx made her name in the WUSA. It's great for the youth of the United States to continue doing what they love. This was a hobby for us and now there's the opportunity for it to be a job for them. It's such an enjoyable experience, I love playing in the league. I've been able to play in places like Boston, like Philadelphia. I'm seeing the US and playing with some of the best players in the world, competing against the best players in the world.
CS: Obviously, there is a fight ahead to grow the WPS, and there is better competition for the Women's National Team at every international competition. Just where, from your perspective as a player, do you see the women's game going in the future?
AR: I'm not a businesswoman. From what I see on the field, the development of women's soccer has grown tremendously. We are creating so many great female soccer players. The game is becoming a lot more tactical, a lot more technical. It's actually gotten a lot tougher for our national team because so many players across the world are developing. It's more competition and that's exciting. We want other countries to be better, to provide better competition.
Cal South Soccer Magazine correspondent Joe Curley also covers soccer for the Ventura County Star and the Scripps Howard News Service. Joe lives in Camarillo with his wife, Rian, and daughter, Vivienne.