The Sky's the Limit

A local soccer organization gives aspiring female players a chance to rub elbow pads with the big-leaguers



With the collapse of the Women’s United Soccer Association in 2003, young girls’ dreams of one day playing on par with Olympians like Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain seemed to fall by the wayside. Now, with the creation last March of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) — a new top-level women’s soccer league — those dreams are closer to reality, even for girls here in the Hudson Valley.

Based in Newburgh, the Quickstrike FC is a soccer organization that provides boys and girls up to age 19 with training, development and a high level of competition. Players on Quickstrike’s women’s team, the Lady Blues, now have the opportunity to advance through the ranks to play for Sky Blue FC, Quickstrike’s professional level affiliate in the WPS league. Part of the Northeast division of the United Soccer League, the Lady Blues are undefeated and in first place as we go to press.

Among those first-place players are several women from the Hudson Valley, including the Taylor sisters – Brittany, Janelle, and Meghan – from Campbell Hall in Orange County. Others hail from around the U.S., with one player calling Sweden home. Despite the differences in hometown, the women all come together to play their home games right at the Newburgh Free Academy.

“The Quickstrike group exemplifies everything we want from a soccer organization in terms of personnel, resources, facilities and fan base,” says Ian Sawyers, head coach of the Sky Blue team. Nevertheless, Lady Blue’s head coach Jesse Kolmel says players of all ages have the chance to develop with the program.

“Quickstrike will not only give competitive opportunities to the top female soccer players in the region, but those experiences will be passed down to players at all ages throughout the Hudson Valley,” says Kolmel.

Game schedules and ticket information are available at the team’s Web site, www.quickstrikefc.com.
 

Just for kicks:

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The U.S. has more official soccer players than any other nation in the world — almost 18 million. Over 40 percent of them are women
 
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The Quickstrike program is rated as New York State’s top program and one of the best in the country by the United Soccer League
 
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Being a top team is not without glamour: The Quickstrike Lady Blues have attracted crowds of over 1,000 fans
 
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Mia Hamm is one of the most recognizable figures in the soccer world; her silhouette is emblazoned on the Women’s Professional Soccer League logo
 
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The Sky Blue FC is on a fast track to success: four of its players are listed in the “player pool” for the U.S. Women’s National team
 
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Brandi Chastain, a player for FC Gold Pride, knows how to celebrate. She is famous for removing her shirt after scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Women’s World Cup

 

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