Young Fort Wayne soccer star earns national invite Amelia White will be part of U15 national team camp this month.
Laura White knew her twin daughters, Amelia and Sophia, had a special knack for soccer when they were 6 years old.
The director of the Ohio recreation league they were playing in suggested they needed a bigger challenge.
“He said, ‘No one else is getting the ball,’ ” Laura White said. ” ‘We need to get you a better forum.’ So we tried out for a travel team and ended up moving here in the meantime.”
By 2011, the girls had become part of Fort Wayne United soccer, with Amelia playing offense at the “nine” or striker position, and Sophia on defense. Now 13, they have excelled with the Fort Wayne club and in other venues.
Amelia’s proficiency as a player and a goal scorer has now earned an especially eye-opening bit of attention. She has been invited to participate in the United States’ U15 Girls National Team camp April 22-28 in College Station, Texas. The camp is the first of a cycle of training to prepare that age group for the U17 World Cup in 2020.
Amelia White will be one of the youngest, if not the youngest, player at the event.
But, again, she’s always had the ability to perform her age.
“She possesses a skill set that you just don’t find in every player: She scores,” Fort Wayne United director of coaching Bobby Poursanidis said. “I’m hoping she does well and becomes part of that pool.”
Poursanidis said White is the third female player from his Fort Wayne club to reach that level, following in the footsteps of Nel Fettig and Sarah Killion. White would be the youngest to get the opportunity, however.
“This will be her initial look and exposure,” Poursanidis said. “She’ll either be one who right away gets involved in the actual national program or she’ll be one who is constantly going to (national camp) and becomes the type of player they want her to be.”
Poursanidis said the national teams at any age level tend to have a group of 30 players who attend the camp and they select the traveling team from there.
Amelia White said she his nervous and excited about the opportunity.
“The biggest thing I need to work on is raising my soccer IQ and being a smarter player,” she said. “It’s really big to be invited and kind of nerve-wracking, but it’s exciting to be competitive and play against some of the best players in the nation at this age.”
Laura White has stressed with her daughters the importance of playing the game with strong character, not showing up opponents and not being selfish players.
But that doesn’t mean tempering competitiveness.
Amelia said her competitive nature is one of the driving forces in her game.
Poursanidis has coached many players over the years and he can see when a player has that instinctive nature needed to be a major goal scorer.
“She’s one of those kids where if you do anything small you’re not gong to see her strength,” he said. “You’ll see a good player, a good athlete. But put her in 11 v 11 and let her go and you’ll realize, ‘Holy cow, in open space she explodes and very few can keep up with her.
“I don’t think she’s a selfish player,” Poursanidis said. “She does share the ball. But she also understands she’s got to get it done. When the moment is there, she does it. I’ve seen her do it a lot.”
Amelia, a seventh grader at Woodside Middle School, will turn 14 in June, so she will be facing many older girls in the national team camp.
Laura White grew up in Columbia City and was a sprinter and power lifter, but not a soccer player. While Amelia was a strong runner, too, recording one of the best times in her age group in the 800 meters, she and her sister are already focused solely on soccer moving forward.
“We’re going to take it as it comes and not make more of it than it is,” Laura White said. “See what the plan is, and it will work out how it’s supposed to.”