Smith Hunter Travels to Costa Rica With Region IV Team

Smith Hunter Travels to Costa Rica With Region IV Team

Copyright: Costa Rica Soccer Tours

Smith Hunter...In Her Own Words

Recently, current Seattle Reign Academy player and longtime Seattle United player Smith Hunter traveled to Costa Rica to represent our club and all of USYS Region IV at the Olympic Development Program International Tournament.  Not only did Smith help the Region IV team to the championship title, but she also came back home with memories that will also a lifetime.  

Smith Hunter…in her own words:

I am extremely grateful that I was given the opportunity to play with the 2001 Region IV girls in the Olympic Development Program International Tournament in Costa Rica.  The competition at the tournament was much more intense and rigorous than the former environments that I had competed in prior to my trip abroad.

On the first day of warmups and training, my west coast teammates, who were a year older than I, required that I play with greater athleticism and technical competence.  My teammates nicknamed me “The Rookie.”  Once we began competing against the Costa Rican women’s teams, I was exposed to an even higher level of skill and talent.  They had a very direct style of play, they were technical, and some players had speed.  In one game, I found myself defending against a woman who played on the Costa Rican national team!  My assignment to defend players with such a different approach to the game required me to adapt at an unexpected rate.  It was a steep learning curve.

Not only did we play against these talented Costa Rican teams, our team was able to participate in community service at an orphanage.  I didn’t think it was possible, but the children we visited were even more excited than we were.  They ran towards us, gave us lots of hugs, and pulled us away to play chase, pass a ball, or swing on top of the crossbars of soccer goals.  Although we didn’t speak Spanish, we could all understand the universal language of friendship, laughter, and love. It was sad to say goodbye to them, but I know that I left the orphanage with a full heart.

The Region IV team put in intensity and effort into every game and left everything on the field.  This hard work allowed us to win the entire tournament!  This was the first time in the eleven years of the tournament that the Region IV girls had won it.  It was exciting to know that we had made history.  No one could stop chanting and smiling that night and it was the best way to end our trip in Costa Rica.  I had the experience of a lifetime during this trip.  I hope that I can come back next year as a veteran to make even more memories!