BILLINGS – A Billings girl is in Tampa Florida this week, not soaking up the sun, but training.
Ashlyn Dvorak is at the National Olympic Development Program Camp, the goal of which is to identify players for the National Teams as well as give players exposure to higher level coaches.
She is 14, a high school freshman, and she loves soccer.
After qualifying regionally, she’s taking her training to the next level, by participating in this year’s National Olympic Development Program.
“The idea is to bring the best players together and for Ashlyn to make it from Montana is almost unheard of,” Dvorak’s soccer coach, Stephen Kavallo, said.
“There’s just going to be lots of soccer, many high-level coaches are going to be out there, get to play with kids from all over the U.S. and stay in hotels with new people and make lots of memories there,” Dvorak said.
The camp will give her an opportunity to train and compete with the highest level athletes, as well as building her resume, and exposing her to college coaches.
“She’ll be training with the elite of the elite, so she’ll get some great feedback from some high qualified and awesome coaches. She’ll bring back a wealth of knowledge from that that she’ll be able to share with her teammates,” Kavallo said.
She is the only person chosen from Montana, and one of only 75 in the nation, and 1 of only 8 goalies.
“She’s a joy to coach,” Kavallo said. “I would say she’s like a mini professional player, her technique and skill are so good, she’s coachable so she wants to get better.”
“It will be cool to represent Montana and all the soccer that we have to offer. Not that many people think we are at that high level as a state, but I’ll go and prove them wrong,” Dvorak said.
The criteria that are considered for those chosen to attend are: Technique, fitness, tactics, and attitude.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she sleeps with her goalkeeper gloves on, you know she loves the game that much,” Kavallo said. “She’s always watching it, she’s always in the back yard juggling. She’s done so much on her own, it’s certainly not the 3 practices a week with her.”
“She’s got a huge personality on the field. I mean she’s bossy out there, that’s a key to being a good goalkeeper. Ashlyn has grown a lot. Her love for the game has been the most consistent thing about her, which I think has really allowed her to grow in leaps and bounds,” Kavallo said.
One thing that differs about her playing style, they say, is the side volley that she uses. Most goalkeepers will punt the ball down the center of the field. The volley still allows for that power, but also increases accuracy, and is more likely to help the team maintain possession.
“I love soccer because it’s the way that I can express myself. I train year round, it’s literally my life,” Dvorak said. “It’s great. I love it”.
Dvorak will return to Montana on Jan. 28.
“Definitely very proud of her, she’s worked hard to get to this point, and I know that she’ll love it and make the most of the opportunity,” Kavallo said.
When she returns she will receive evaluations from the camp’s coaches, which she can use to adjust her training.