The young players of Medford Strikers SC and the students of Universal Soccer Academy are receiving an honor that very few people in the world can claim. Carli Lloyd, who recently received her second consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year has announced that she is dedicating her latest award to them!
Over the years as she has played with the US Women’s National Team and several professional teams, Carli has joined into training with the Medford Strikers players at their training facilities in Medford, New Jersey. Likewise, training with her personal coach, James Galanis, Director of Soccer Operations at Universal Soccer Academy, has given her the opportunity to practice with the students of the Academy based in South Jersey. Carli is dedicating this award to all of the Striker players and Universal students that have made her feel welcome and have given her a place to play and hone her skills when home in South Jersey.
“I owe a lot to the kids from Medford Strikers and Universal. I have always been able to come home and hop into their practices, giving me a realistic environment and helping me continuously improve my game.” Carli who grew up playing for Medford Strikers SC has been active at the Club throughout her career and is a part of the Strikers fabric. “This place is home for me. I’m proud to have played for this Club and being able to still train on the fields I grew up playing at has a special feeling to it.”
For the past 14 years, Carli has been working with Coach Galanis at the Universal Soccer Academy and has joined in on hundreds of classes and camps during that time. “It’s been nice to be able to work on my skills with James and then slide right into camps and clock in more hours to improve my game”. Although she is a world class athlete recognized wherever she travels, at Universal she is still a “student” working hard each and every day to stay at the top of her game and to get even better.
The presence of Carli Lloyd at the trainings is obviously exciting to the kids, but Carli’s participation is also appreciated by the parents. “Carli encourages every player from U8-U18 with her passion, dedication, and her hard work ethic. She leads by example, showing what it takes to ‘empty the tank’ and never give up. Her competitiveness motivates my daughter, Allison, to work harder than the day before, to better herself on and off the field.” (Pauline Bicking, parent of Medford Striker Academy Girls player and Universal student)
For some, Carli’s dedication of the FIFA award to the young players may be surprising, but for the Medford Strikers and Universal students who interact with her, this is typical “Carli”. “When I first came to the Strikers and Universal, I knew I would see Carli. She’s my favorite player and role model and I was pretty star-struck. But then I realized she is really nice and doesn’t act like a celebrity. She’s friendly, but she’s here to work hard. She’s just one of us when she’s at training.” (Nikki Dedes, 12)
Thank you, Carli, for this honor! The players and students at the Medford Strikers SC and Universal Soccer Academy are very proud that you are “one of us”, and our fields will always be your home!