While it sometimes is implicitly frowned up as a personality characteristic in our society, particularly among young ladies, there’s no question that ambition is an important quality for a successful athlete.
You simply can’t succeed at the highest levels without wanting to.
It’s early in the career of 13-year old Minnesota Thunder Academy forward Lauren Miller, but she’s showing the kind of drive and ambition, not to mention ability, that is typically found in players who make it to the highest levels.
“She’s very competitive. She always wants to come in first,” is how her mother, Allyson, describes Lauren’s drive. “She always wants to have the team do well.”
Miller plays two years up the Thunder U15 club team coached by Mark Cook, and a year up with the Region II ODP 94s. Cook is very high on her potential.
“I first saw her at 11 and it was hard to believe she was 11, playing with the U13s,” Cook said. “She had such an ability and knowledge of the game, you could tell she would be a special player. I started working personally with her last year and even in the last year I’ve seen a huge change in her work ethic. She’s getting a lot stronger and she’s always been special technically, with good vision. Now she’s matured mentally and physically and is taking it to the next level.”
Lauren herself leaves little doubt as to just how much she wants to make it big.
“For me personally it’s mostly about skill and the mental side,” she said when asked about the areas that separate top players from the pack. “It comes down to how much do you want to score, and how much do you want to contribute to the game. And you need skill to finish and to create chances.”
Lauren said she will train either with her team or a personal trainer 3-4 times per week, and adds that she always has a ball at her feet when at home.
“Soccer is just basically my life,” she said.
Cook said Lauren is becoming a more complete team player on a daily basis.
“That’s really our focus,” he said. “We know how powerful an individual player she can be. We’re talking with her this year about making her teammates better, about how she can create opportunities for the team.”
As Lauren continues to take the training and instruction to heart, Cook sees nothing but positives ahead.
“If she continues to develop the way she has, even just in last year where she has put in a lot of time to develop physically, and her work ethic keeps growing, the sky is the limit to be honest,” Cook said. “She already has great technical ability and she’s creative. Her work ethic was really the thing and even in the last year we’ve seen a complete change in her mentality. I’ve had some kids with national teams come back and think they can coast, but she’s been working even harder.”
Lauren, whose ODP event teammates included Kylie Morgan, Katie Naughton, Crystal Thomas, Alexandra Gjonaj and Olivia Jester, lists making a youth national team at the Nike Friendlies this summer as a short-term goal.
“I want to keep improving and keep moving up through ODP and making teams,” she said. “I want to push myself to the highest level.”