Carli Lloyd – 2007′s ‘Native Son’ Winner
by LIZ SULLIVAN
Unlike many world-class athletes who dream from an early age of reaching the pinnacle of their sport, the dream came a little later for Delran, NJ’s Carli Lloyd.
Lloyd, 25, has been a midfielder for the US Women’s National Soccer Team since 2005. The Delran High School graduate and her teammates are in the midst of preparing for the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.
This would be the first time Lloyd has played in the Olympics for the United States, which is the defending champion, even though she was a World Cup starter for the U.S. last summer.
Despite all of the success Lloyd has had at the scholastic, collegeiate and international levels, she admitted even as a high school senior she was doubting whether she could take her skills and her love of soccer to the next level.
“I really didn’t believe in myself,” Lloyd said. “I wasn’t sure I could compete at the level I am competing at now. Then I started working out and getting really fit with the help of my trainer James Galanis (based in Medford, NJ) and that gafve me the confidence I needed. Everyone else, especially my parents, had confidence in my and that confidence alone helped me raise my game. I know what my potential is now and I haven’t gotten there yet.”
Soccer was just something her parents (Steve and Pam) got her invovled in. Lloyd played for the Medford Strikers club team, winning the 1997 and 1998 state cups and she helped lead the PDA Galaxy to the 2001 U-23 National Title while earning Most Valubable Player honors.
“Soccer was just something I continued to go with and I developed a huge passion for it,” Lloyd said. “I liked the craftiness and I liked that it takes a while to master. It’s something that you have to keep working hard at.”
Lloyd took her game to the next level when she played collegiately at Rutgers. During her senior year, she was named the 2004 Big East Midfielder of the Year, became the first Rutgers player to earn first-team All-Big East honors for four years. By the time she graduated from Rutgers with a Bachelor of Science and Sports Studies, Lloyd was the soccer program’s all-time leader in points (117) and goals (50).
Natural progression then took Lloyd’s game to the national level, where she competed with the U.S. squad twice in 2005. In 2006 Lloyd started two games at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, including the title game against Germany. The following year, she was the leading scorer int he Algarve Cup and came home with the MVP honors.
“I have been gung-ho for the last three years with the national team,” said Lloyd, who has appeared in 44 games for the U.S. and scored 10 goals. “The Olympics this year has made it a very busy year. There are so many sacrifices you make at this level, but hopefully int he end it is all worth it.”
With the Olymics in China this year, Lloyd and her teammates will be returning to the country of a recent disappointment. In 2007 the United States finished a discouraging third in the World Cup for the second straight time.
“This is another new beginning for us,” Lloyd said. “Pia (Sundhage, new coach) is amazing. She brings to the team a new level of confidence and commitment. We are super excited about this opportunity. I don’t think we’ve been able to display what we’re capable of.
“The Olympics mean a lot to us. That and the World Cup is what you train for. We stil lhave a lot of work to do, but having a gold medal would be a tremendous honor and a dream come true.
(Editor’s note: The US Team captured the gold medal in the Summer Olympics in Beijing, with Lloyd scoring the game-winning overtime goal to beat Brazil, 1-0, in the final game.)
Reprinted from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association’s collectible program from the 2008 dinner.