Summer Yates tried other sports, but none fit her like soccer does.
When she has a soccer ball at her feet it feels natural and it shows. The Pasco youngster is one of the best players for her age in the state of Washington and the entire country.
Yates, who is an eighth-grader at McLoughlin Middle School, was invited to the U-14 U.S. National Soccer camp today through Thursday in Phoenix, Ariz.
I like soccer more (than other sports) because there is no playbook, she said. You can just be creative.
Yates has been playing since she was a little girl when her uncle J.J. Trevino passed her a soccer ball in the backyard.
It quickly grew from the normal childhood games and leagues into her lifes passion.
Her dad, Blake, does 1-on-1 drills with her five days a week, and then drives her to Tukwila so she can play with elite teams on the weekends.
She is probably one of the most technical players out there, Blake said. She is very solid in that aspect. She doesnt just try to kick the ball and outrun you.
Summer plays attacking midfielder and sometimes forward. She is one of 80 girls nationwide to be called up by the National program to this training session. Her dad is pretty sure she is the first local since Hope Solo to get called up to a national camp. The girls will scrimmage and train before being evaluated. There will be other chances to be called up later this year, and eventually a U-14 team will be chosen out of the group.
I was surprised, Summer said about the call up, but I was happy and excited. I always dreamed about this. It was my main dream when I started soccer.
Im expecting good competition from the girls that Im going to go against, but Ill try my best.
Now that she has accomplished that dream, her next major goal is to make the U-21 team, and her dad said to one day play in the Olympics.
We tried to come up with a plan to help her get there, Blake said. Lots of hard work that has paid off. She is one of the smallest players, but she plays big.
Blake was a football player growing up and didnt have much experience with soccer. He started coaching Summers teams when she was 8, but quit so he could focus on just her training.
I come up with a training session every day that will hopefully evaluate her game, he said. She was kind of surprised and happy at the same time that she made it. There is lots of competition.
For Summer, though, that has never been much of a problem.
She almost looks forward to the pressure, Blake said of his daughter. Seems like every time there is a pressure situation she steps up her game and performs. She is relaxed in that aspect.
And that will serve her well this week.
Craig Craker: 582-1509; firstname.lastname@example.org