With introductions out of the way, now comes the difficult part for U.S. U23 Women’s National Team coach Randy Waldrum.
Having just wrapped his first camp in Sarasota, Florida, after being named the coach just a week earlier, Waldrum must now make sense out of what he’s just seen.
The U23s are scheduled to head to Spain for the La Manga Tournament next month and it’s up to the new guy to select the roster.
Never mind that he’s only had a week to evaluate. It amounts to kind of a crash course for the Notre Dame coach but it’s all a part of the new U.S. Soccer gig.
“The primary purpose of the camp for me was to see what I had,” Waldrum said. “This was my only opportunity to see them before (Spain). I did know most of the players coming in but you really get a different perception of them when you see them train twice a day for an entire week.”
So what did he learn?
“Well, take a player like (Stanford’s) Camille Levin; we played against her in the 2010 National Championship and again last year but seeing her day in and day out I realized just how versatile she is. She can play anywhere, and I wasn’t previously aware of that.”
Conversely, the 24 players invited into camp – which featured collegiate stars sprinkled in with a few professionals – saw a new side of Waldrum.
There was intense training, of course, and the group scrimmaged against the IMG and Clearwater Chargers clubs but there was a bigger purpose to the gathering.
Waldrum wants to help define an identity with the U23 group, one that connects to the rest of the U.S. Soccer program as a whole.
Because of the nature of the U23 age group this hasn’t always been the case. There’s no major event to prepare for every two years and the squad works with a smaller window of time throughout the year.
“In speaking with the players I was hearing that they felt like they weren’t a part of the program as a whole, and the age group was more about the individual,” Waldrum said. “Hopefully I can change that mindset. My job is to push players forward into the full team. I would imagine that the faces of the U.S. Women’s team will be changing in the coming years and I’m trying to prepare them for that.”
So in addition to making his own personal connections with his new team, Waldrum is also trying to cultivate the group’s ultimate connection to the program.
It’s part of the grand scheme of Technical Director April Heinrichs and Development Director Jill Ellis to unify the women’s program.
It’s a new approach and one that appeals to Waldrum, who has previously been called in to help the U.S. Women’s program at different times during his decorated coaching career.
Waldrum said he’ll get a chance to sit down with national team coach Pia Sundhage in the coming month as the lines of communication are wide open these days at the U.S. Soccer base.
As for Waldrum, the two-time national champion is enjoying his new challenge even if it does involve some difficult decisions right out of the gate.
“As coaches you want to coach at the highest level,” Waldrum said. “I’ve been involved with U.S. Soccer for some time but to now have a full time position is special. Jill (Ellis) and April (Heinrichs) have brought in a multitude of coaches and perspectives, which is what I like. Where in the past, things have been somewhat closed off to certain coaches things have really opened up and it’s helpful for everyone.”
U.S. U23 WNT Camp Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Oklahoma State; Salina, Kan.), Emily Kruger (California; Woodside, Calif.), Megan Kufeld (Washington; Freemont, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (10): Natasha Anasi (Duke; Arlington, Texas), Lauren Barnes (Philadelphia Independence; Upland, Calif.), Amber Brooks (North Carolina; New Hope, Pa.), Camille Levin (Stanford; Newport Coast, Calif.), Taylor Lytle (Texas Tech; Las Cruces, N.M.), Blake Miller (West Virginia; St. Louis, Mo.); Toni Pressley (Florida State; Melbourne, Fla.), Elli Reed (Boston Breakers; Park City, Utah), Sammy Scofield (Notre Dame; Geneva, Ill.), Kika Toulouse (Virginia; Arlington, Va.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Zakiya Bywaters (UCLA; Las Vegas, Nev.), Bianca D’Agostino (out of contract; Longmeadow, Mass.), Amanda DaCosta (Sky Blue FC; Katonah, N.Y.), Jenna Richmond (UCLA; Centerville, Va.), Elizabeth Tucker (Notre Dame; Jacksonville, Fla.), Erika Tymrak (Florida; Lakewood Ranch, Fla.)
FORWARDS (5): Vicki DiMartino (Boston College; Massapequa, N.Y.), Morgan Marlborough (Nebraska; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Danielle Foxhoven (Portland; Littleton, Co.), Lindsay Taylor (Stanford; Los Altos, Calif.), Laura Weinberg (Duke; Boca Raton, Fla.)