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Villa Park gets a special visit from U.S. Olympian
The Villa Park girls’ soccer team recently had the opportunity to gain insight and wisdom from one of the nation’s most accomplished and respected professional soccer players.
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Shannon Boxx stopped by the Spartans workout last week to talk with the team and work on fundamentals and drills.
The Southern California native played at South Torrance High from 1991-95, and was a Parade Magazine All-American selection as a senior. She played collegiately at Notre Dame from 1995-98, helping the Irish win the school’s first national championship in 1995.
Boxx was a three-time all-Big East selection during her time in South Bend.
“The biggest thing that I hope to do is inspire young girls no matter what they want to do,” Boxx said. “I think it’s important to give back and inspire young women to go for their dreams.”
Boxx has played with the U.S. national team since 2003 and helped the U.S. to the gold in the 2004 Olympics in Greece, the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and the 2012 Olympics in London.
She identified the foundation of what high school players should be doing if they hope to compete on the world’s biggest stages both on and off the field.
“At the high school level, the focus for these girls’ should be on setting goals,” Boxx said. “It is also important to get an education. The ultimate goal should be for them to graduate from college with a degree so that they can have the potential to do whatever they may want to do.”
Spartans head coach Brent Whitfield was thrilled to have Boxx impart some of her wisdom and insight on his team.
“It was a great experience to have Shannon come join in the practice session and give feedback to my players,” Whitfield said.
“After each drill, she brought the girls in to comment on things they were doing well and things for them to improve upon. The training session was very positive and the girls were motivated the entire time.”
Senior co-caption Aryanna St. Pierre had this to say about what she took away from the experience of learning from Boxx.
"Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do," she said.
Spartans junior Tanmy Steuart said that perseverance was a key theme that she retained from Boxx’s words to the team.
“Never giving up on my dreams and that hard work really pays off in the end no matter what it is you wish to accomplish, " Steuart said.
Boxx said that she liked what she saw during her time at the practice.
“I was very impressed with the team’s level of play,” Boxx said. “The respect level they had for me out there was great. I hope they do well this season.”
Having the perspective of a gold-medalist player was something that Whitfield hopes will resonate with his players throughout the season.
“It was good for the girls to hear someone else other than me telling them things on the field,” Whitfield said. “What better voice to hear from than a three-time gold medalist like Shannon Boxx.”