It’s 4pm on a Monday afternoon. You’ve been home for about an hour, finished up some homework, and now you’re getting ready to take a nap before you have to leave for practice. Your phone rings next to you, buzzing on the sheets; your coach is calling. 14 years of hard work paid off.
Senior Cailey England started playing soccer at age 3 on community teams in Washington state before moving to Dripping Springs.
“My parents just kind of put us in everything and soccer was the one thing that I loved the most and I had the most fun at,” England said.
In 3rd grade Cailey made the switched from community to club soccer, joining Houston Dynamo Soccer Club.
““I would say [I took it seriously] from the very beginning,” England said, “I mean I had fun but I was one that always wanted to win. [Switching to Dynamo] wasn’t a hard decision because I so just wanted to play.”.
In 7th grade, Cailey transitioned to her current club, Lonestar Soccer Club.
“I would say the biggest transition was going from Dynamo to Lonestar because the environment just grew so much,” England said. “There was a bigger platform for me to play on, more coaches looking at me.”
From 6th grade to freshman year Cailey qualified for and participated in the Olympic Development Program (ODP). This program curates a pool of players of each age group for a National Team to select from when competing.
“Lonestar was a lot more competitive for me and ODP was a lot more competitive,” England said. “Going to that was my first real taste of an environment of a lot of girls who want to win. That was when I was first like ‘oh my gosh, I want to be on that level’. ”[Lonestar] and the Olympic Development Program was where I really found my passion for soccer.”
On a monday afternoon, Cailey got a call from her coach.
“Only my mom was home,” England said. “I couldn’t even talk, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe I had done it. This was such a milestone in my soccer career, I jumped all over and I hugged my mom. I was so excited.”
Cailey was invited to attended the U-18 Women’s National Team Identification Camp, and play alongside 38 other selected players.
“[Making the National Pool] grew to be a distant dream and now that it’s actually happening, it doesn’t even feel real,” England said.
Cailey trained primarily as a midfielder at IMG Academy, a prestigious boarding school and sports training destination, for a little over a week.
“The camp was the most intense thing I’ve been to in my entire life,” England said. “This is the best pool of players in the entire nation. The competition is the best, the environment is the best. You don’t just go to this camp to play soccer, you go there to learn soccer.”
At camp Cailey met one on one with a midfield unit coach, analyzed clips from practices and games, created a highlight reel for herself, in addition to playing.
“There was a lot of support staff,” England said. “People you can go to wether you’re injured, you need some help, have any problems at home, or you need to talk to someone. There’s always a coach and your teammates are there for you.”
Cailey has been playing club soccer for 9 years, and with that comes sacrifice. She plays around 9 hours a week, on top of school and homework.
“To be at this level you have to sacrifice so much,” England said. “You sacrifice time with your friends, your family. You sacrifice a lot of your social life and your personal life. You do your homework, and you sleep, and you eat, and you play soccer. But I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
Cailey has been able to attend one of four homecoming games, and spent three weeks at home this summer.
“You really miss those experiences [with family]. As we’re seniors now, you come to realize you’re not going to be with your brother and sister anymore, you’re not going to be with your parents anymore. Sometimes it feels like all the time you were playing soccer you could’ve been with them. But they love and support me no matter what I do.”
Cailey prides herself on maintaining high grades since middle school, ranking 4th of her class in October of her senior year.
“In every minute of my spare time I’m studying, doing my homework,” England said. “I’m keeping up with my teachers and making sure they know what I’m doing, where I’m going, how important this is to me.”
Cailey plans to attended The University of Oklahoma on a full scholarship in the fall, a school to which she has been verbally committed to since her sophomore year.
“I love soccer but it’s not your whole life,” England said. “There will be a time when I won’t be able to play soccer, and all I’ll have left is what’s in my brain.”
“You hit a lot of low points in club soccer,” England said. ”There was times I didn’t want to play, times I got in the car and said I wanted to quit. I’ve cried and I’ve cried and I’ve cried and I’ve cried. But, the joy of playing and going where you want to go is the best. I still can’t believe that I am where I am.”
By Tessa Stigler, Editor-in-Chief
Featured photo by Tessa Stigler