Her name is Summer Yates, but spring continues to be her best season.
The sophomore soccer star from Chiawana High School found out Wednesday she will be packing her bags for Italy to play in the first International Women’s Tournament of Gradisca.
For Yates, the trip is a dream come true, but also just another step along the way on her ultimate journey: the World Cup.
“I’m really excited,” the 15-year-old said. “I think I worked hard enough for it. I was waiting for the call. A little anxious.”
The tournament runs April 19-29 and will pit the U.S. U16 girls national team against teams from Iran and Italy in Group play, with teams from France, Mexico and England comprising the other group.
Yates was first named to the U16 team last spring as a freshman, on the same day she committed to play for the University of Washington on a full-ride scholarship.
Since then, she has continued to bolster her national caché, scoring two goals and an assist to lead the U16 team to a rare win over the U17 squad last April. She spent time playing up with the 17s and had hopes of making the U17 World Cup team. It came as a bit of a surprise she was left off that squad.
“I love challenges,” Yates said. “Playing on the U17 team, I love that. I strived to make the World Cup, and I didn’t make it, so I strived to play (in) Italy.”
Yates was a Mid-Columbia Conference first-team midfielder last fall after scoring 23 goals for Chiawana and also earned an All-State honorable mention nod. She spends her weekends playing with her club team, Pac Northwest based in Seattle, and trains during the week with her father, Blake.
Once every month or two, the national team gets together for a training camp or a tournament, playing in San Diego or Carson, Calif., or even in Orlando. But this will easily be the farthest from home Yates has ever traveled, providing the first stamp in her recently acquired passport.
“She flies on her own all the time, but this is her first time out of the country,” Blake said. “I think she’s pretty excited.”
Those U16 teammates from all over the country have become friends. One of them, Shae Holmes, a defender from Colorado, will be a future teammate at UW.
“She’s been pretty rock solid on it since the U14 team,” Blake said of his daughter’s national and international trajectory. “We had an idea (she would make the Italy team). She always played the attacking center-mid position, she’s always a starter in scrimmages. I thought she had a really good shot, but you never know.”
What is known is that Summer thus far is on schedule to cycle through the system to the U18 team in the next year or two and then the U20 team, with an eye on the 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
After that: Olypmics? Women’s national team? The big World Cup?
All dreams. The question is, does this trip to Italy make those longtime dreams seem a little closer?
“A little bit,” Yates said. “But I still have a ways to go.”
Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403