After scoring the game-sealing goal in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, midfielder Rose Lavelle has been heralded as a future star of the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT). Over the weekend, Lavelle, along with fellow Washington Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan came to Broome County to lead a youth soccer clinic at the Greater Binghamton Sports Complex.
“I think it’s really cool,” Lavelle said. “I know when we were younger we did these kind of camps, and it meant so much to us to be able to have players to look up to and to be like, ‘I want to be in their shoes one day,’ so it’s been cool to now see how it comes full circle, and we’re able to give back to the sport in the same way that it was given to us. And it’s so fun to interact with all these players, and you could tell how much it means to them. It’s been awesome.”
The event focused on more than 200 boys and girls between the ages of six and 18 who participated in skill-development drills on Saturday and an age-appropriate World Cup-themed tournament on Sunday.
“I think we both look for opportunities where we can play all the time and go to camps, and I think this one is just so well organized, well run,” Sullivan said. “It brings me a lot of joy to see all the kids just enjoying themselves and getting lots of opportunities to try new things and play and have a good time.”
Several local soccer coaches and players were on hand to administer the event and teach the attendees, including several members of Binghamton University’s club women’s soccer team.
“It’s like you’re coaching but also learning,” said Gina Fahey, a member on the team and a junior majoring in mathematics. “I got to play with Andi a little bit so far, and I wanted to do well to impress her, but the kids were also being coached.”
The Greater Binghamton Sports Complex, located in the town of Union, is the largest air-supported dome structure in the country. It was opened in 2005 and has space for a full-size soccer field inside. The facility has previously hosted clinics led by other USWNT players, including Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx and Sydney Leroux.
“I think this facility is incredible,” Sullivan said. “I’m from Virginia, and it gets cold, and we don’t really have a lot of big spaces to play, so I wish I had something like this, but I would try to go to a day camp every time I could, or play pickup every time I could. I think to have this space and to be someone that the players can interact with and look up to is very cool.”
Lavelle made her USWNT debut during the team’s victory tour after winning the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and played in her first World Cup last summer. Including her goal in the final, she scored three times throughout the event and was awarded the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament. Sullivan first joined the team in a 2016 international friendly against Switzerland, and was part of the team’s camp roster for the latest World Cup.
“When we were coming onto the team, we came on at a really cool time because there were a lot of new players coming on the team, but also a lot of veteran, older players that we got to learn from,” Lavelle said. “I feel like we’ve gotten the privilege to learn from the best, and they’ve set such a good example for us, so we kind of know what’s expected of us when we’re in this role, and it’s been great.”
At 24 years old, Lavelle is expected to be a standout in the USWNT for years to come. With several players nearing retirement age, an opportunity exists for her, among others, to become a household name on the world’s top international soccer team.
“It’s great to see how many people have supported us through this journey,” Lavelle said. “I think we always know that there’s people that are watching our games and are big fans, but then to be able to come to something like this and see that support and love for the team firsthand, it’s so special because I feel like you realize how impactful it is and how much our team means to people.”