A terrific athletic year for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2015, capped off with a National Championship win by the football team, just got a bit more impressive as one of the school’s rising stars is being recognized on a national scale.
According to RollTide.com, Emma Welch, a freshman forward for the Alabama women’s soccer team, has been invited to the prestigious U.S. Women’s Soccer Under-19 National Team Camp. The camp will run from March 12-19 in Davis, CA.
Some of the best American women’s soccer players of all time have passed through the camp, which makes the invitation even more special for Welch. She was quite humbled after being called up to the camp, praising her coaches and teammates for helping her along the way.
“While I’m nervous, I am very excited for the opportunity to compete with the best players in the nation in my age group at this camp,” Welch said. “I am also very grateful to be given this chance. I want to thank coach Wes Hart for instilling confidence in me, even when I didn’t necessarily have confidence in myself.”
About 209,000 girls in the U.S. play high school soccer, and only a select few are talented enough to play against Division 1 competition. A mere 26 players from around the country were named to the camp by U.S. Soccer Development Coach Jitka Klimkova, which speaks to how impressively Welch has played.
Welch is the first Alabama soccer player selected for the camp since Abby Lutzenkirchen was invited in 2012. Head Coach Wes Hart could not be happier for the freshman star, though he wasn’t exactly shocked by the news, considering how tremendous her performance has been.
“I’m thrilled for Emma,” said Hart. “She’s certainly deserving of this opportunity. She was good for us in the fall and is getting better each day. Emma is passionate about the game, has a tremendous work rate, is eager to learn and is ready to take her game to the next level. I’m not surprised she was called in.”
Many Alabamians and soccer fans in general hope that Welch’s appearance at the camp will attract more fans to the women’s fame. According to The New York Times, legendary tennis player Billie Jean King recently campaigned for women’s soccer, claiming that tennis has become too expensive for many families.
While it may take some time before women’s soccer becomes a national obsession, Welch’s invitation to the U-19 camp has certainly turned heads here in Alabama. The young star was the only freshman to play all 19 matches for the Tide in 2015, leading the team with four assists.
There’s no guarantee that Welch will make the U-20 World Cup team in November, but her appearance at this camp is truly a remarkable feat of its own.