Bend youth soccer players of all ages showed up to Pine Nursery Park Friday to watch the National Women’s Soccer League Champion Portland Thorns in action.
“We look up to them and want to be them someday so it’s kind of fun to watch them have a practice and compare it to ours thinking that we might be them one day,” said 10-year-old Abriella Gatto, a midfielder for the Apex FC.
Sophia Smith, A U.S. Women’s National Team player voted 2022 U.S. Female Player of the Year, offered some advice for the young girls with big dreams.
“Just remember to enjoy it because it goes by really fast, but to also understand that you have to put in the work and that you have to do things that other people aren’t doing to set yourself apart from other people if you want to make it to the next level,” said Smith.
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Other fans watching the practice also said they hope to be pros one day.
“I think it would be pretty cool especially for people to maybe get my jersey or like that,” said 10-year-old Addison Berg, a midfielder for Bend FC.
“I love it. It’s a big part of my life,” said 11-year-old forward for Bend FC Izzy Wolford.
“I hope to learn from the practice. I need to be a better goalie,” said Maren, a 7-year-old midfielder for Bend FC.
Oregonian Bella Bixby, one of the Portland Thorn goalkeepers, says visits like these are important.
“Being able to connect with them and build that ‘You can do this, too. This can be a dream of yours’ is really important,” said Bixby. “We can’t just do that in our local zip code. We have to be able to do that all over the state.”
The players came to Bend to get away from their usual environment, to spend time together as a team and one other reason.
“You obviously see the fan base here today,” said Head Coach Mike Norris. “I think it’s key in terms of building a stretching that community that we have.”
Addison thinks it’s pretty cool that the team decided to practice in little ol’ Bend.
“I would not expect that because Bend is small, but it’s big to us,” said Berg.
If you want to see a Portland Thorns game this year, the season will start in late March.