Sleek’s practice and training at “the beautiful game” continued throughout the winter and the payoff came recently when the WHS sophomore was named to Ohio North’s Olympic Development Program. Sleek and that team went to Northern Illinois University (NIU) outside Chicago, July 9-13, to compete in a Regional tournament, which drew in teams from around the Midwest.
It was the second trip to NIU for Sleek, who made the team a year ago.
“For kids in high school, we go through winter training and take 18 on each team,” said Sleek, who thanked her parents for being willing to get her to the training sessions. “Because we had so many numbers, they took two teams from the (19)97 age group - 18 from January-June and from July-December they took another 18.”
The practices were held once a month in Lorain for two hours during the winter, with more than 70 athletes in attendance. The athletes then went through four practices in the final two weeks of June before the group was pared down to the two teams.
Sleek found the experience easier the second time around,
“This time I knew what to expect going into camp,” said Sleek. “I knew it would be hot and the pace so much quicker. That was nice to know over last year.”
The camp was a comprehensive one, with training exercises in the morning and then games at night.
“Every morning we had training with our regional coach … and then at night we would play games against different states,” said Sleek. “There were 14 different state teams there. We would get up at 5:45 and check to see who made the regional pool. Each morning they would take 36 people … for the holdover camp. If you weren’t picked, then you had normal practice at either 8 or 10 (a.m.).
“We had lots of meetings with coaches, lot’s of time on nutrition. We would go from 10 to noon and then in the evening we would go from 7-8:30 or 9.”
The games were high-intensity contests, she added.
“The coaches looked at them as real games,” said Sleek. “The main purpose of the tournament was the games. If you won the tournament that team moved to a different camp. Those games were like tournament games and not a lot of stoppage. We had refs and the games were intense.”
Ohio North split its four games. It lost to Kansas 3-0 in its opener, beat a combined North and South Dakota team 5-1, dropped a decision to eventual champion Michigan 4-0 and then capped the tournament with a 2-0 win over Ohio South.
“Michigan is always good,” said Sleek. “They won the whole thing. … All in all, it was a good tournament.”
Sleek said the main benefit she gained from this year’s camp was being put on defense.
“They put me at defender and I did struggle,” said Sleek. “I’m used to playing midfield or forward. They put me on defense, which was hard. I learned a lot though – there was a lot of new stuff. Now when I’m watching games I understand the offense and defense better. It taught me a lot about defense and help in general. You never know when you could be put that there, so now I have that experience and it helped me a lot.”
Published: July 18, 2012