Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2005

ODP soccer selection drives Dillon to improve

March 31, 2005

Allison Dillon is a typical seventh-grader - she's on the newspaper, she sings in the choir, she plays piano and third chair clarinet, she's a softball catcher, she runs track, she plays basketball and, last but not least, she's a soccer stud.

Well, maybe she's not quite typical. She may be a bit of an overachiever.

Allison's latest achievement was earning a spot on the Kansas Olympic Development Program soccer team in February.

The ODP is used to identify talented soccer players. In Allison's age group, the program is used to develop players' skills. For older groups, ODP games draw college recruiters and provide the opportunity to be scouted for national teams.

To try out for the program, players attend a camp in the summer, Denise Dillon, Allison's mom, said. To continue the training, players must attend a camp once a month for coaches to observe them.

After months of training, 36 players and eight alternates are chosen to attend a regional camp in Illinois in July. Allison was picked out of about 70 girls in her age group to go to the camp, Denise Dillon said.

Allison's success this year doesn't guarantee her a spot on the team in the future, her mom said. Players have to try out every year.

Allison, 13, said training is strict. At the first camp, players were told, "Early is on time. On time is late," she said. Allison said she must be at camp, which is held in Emporia or at Arrowhead Stadium in the winter, at 8:30 a.m. though it officially starts at 9 a.m.

Allison said she plays soccer nearly year round. Outdoor season is in the spring and summer; indoor season is in the fall and winter.

All the practice keeps Allison's skills sharp. She is a midfielder on her Leavenworth competitive team and a back or wing midfielder for ODP. Though she is a defender, Allison said she scores quite a few goals. Her best game, she said, was one for her Leavenworth team in which she scored four goals in the team's 8-0 win. What made that game a great one for her, she said, was the success of her friend in addition to her own. Tabitha Hayes, a teammate, scored two goals in that game. Tabitha was selected as an alternate for the ODP regional camp, but she was notified that she would definitely be going, Denise Dillon said.

Allison said playing for ODP is one step in the direction of fulfilling her dream of playing soccer professionally. She said so far that dream hasn't been derailed. "I might go through a stage where I want to be a vet, but it always comes back to the soccer star," she said.

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