It all started with Little Feet according to Homer siblings Drew and Lyndsay Brown. The two Homer High School students’ soccer talents are taking them to Hawaii and Vegas in 2013 respectively.
Both put on their first pair of soccer cleats before entering elementary school with the help of Homer’s Little Feet program, and have stuck with the sport ever since. Nearly 10 years later, Lindsay leaves next week with fellow Homer High classmate Samantha Draves to play for the Alaska team in the Olympic Development Program (ODP) in Las Vegas, Nev.
The two will play in the U.S. Youth Soccer ODP Region IV tournament starting Jan. 11, comprised of 14 other state teams in the western region. A team of 16 players from all over Alaska leaves the state Monday to start practice in Nevada under Coach Barat Killian.
The country- and pop-listening freshman went through four elimination tryouts in Soldotna and Anchorage in August to make the team.
“I was really surprised when I was chosen for the team. I didn’t think I did my best at tryouts,” said Lyndsay.
Lyndsay and Samantha are both excited for the trip to the high desert next week; the tournament will be their first time going to Las Vegas.
Samantha, also a freshman at Homer High, recently moved to Homer from Philadelphia. For Draves, making the ODP team was exciting.
“I never thought this was going to happen. Back in Philadelphia, the farthest I ever got was the fifth division out of nine division, so to be playing the highest level in Alaska feels great,” said Draves.
Though a long way from her roots on the East Coast, Draves enjoys the size and scenic feel of Homer.
“I am definitely happy with where I am,” said Draves.
After the ODP tournament, Lyndsay and Samantha will try out for the high school soccer team in the spring. Lyndsay’s ultimate goal is to go to college on a soccer or basketball scholarship.
Lyndsay’s soccer successes take after those of her older brother Drew. As a sophomore at Homer High, his skill on the JV soccer team last spring got him a seat on the bench and some playing time on the varsity team at State.
“Coach Warren Woldorf invited me to sit on the bench at State. I never played at that high of a level before. It was different and faster,” said Drew.
Since the State invite, Drew has grown to learn more about high-level soccer. Playing for the Cook Inlet Soccer Club (CISC), Drew spent his summer in Anchorage four days a week to practice with the CISC U17 team.
Drew’s mother, Kristen Brown, says the summer was crazy with shuttling two soccer kids around to all their games and practices, but it is well worth it.
“I am excited and thrilled for them. It is such a great opportunity for them to go outside of the state so they can see where they can go with soccer,” said Brown. “This is Drew’s last opportunity to do something with soccer before he turns 16 and starts driving and working.”
The CISC U17 team manager Holly Norwood recruited Drew for the team and recognizes his time commitment to the team.
“He puts in a lot to get up to Anchorage. He is a wonderful defenseman and a great addition to the team,” said Norwood.
Drew’s team of elite players from all over the state went on to win state championships in August. This June they will travel to Hawaii to play in the Far West Regional tournament, coached by West High School’s soccer coach, Laef Eggan.
“I am excited for the tournament. It will be great to play against teams outside of Alaska,” said Drew.
Former Homer resident, Porter Livingston, also played on the CISC team. Livingston has moved to Portland, Ore., but will join the team in Hawaii for the tournament.
Despite Drew’s new experiences in the competitive soccer world, the self-proclaimed accident-prone 15-year-old says his best memories of soccer are of winning borough championships two years in a row at Homer Middle School under coach Tim Daugharty.
When not on the field or on the basketball court, Drew works hard in his science class with hopes of studying sports medicine in college, an influence from being accident-prone he says. It’s sports medicine if the professional soccer career falls, that is.
“I’ve always had this dream of playing pro soccer in Europe,” said Drew. “In Europe because soccer is better over there.”