Earlier this summer, Lansing junior Shelby Potter competed in an international soccer tournament in the Dominican Republic.
Joined by fellow Lady Lion teammate Monica Amthor, Potter’s Omega Select team went 1-0-2 and beat the Dominican U17 girls’ national team 4-3 in its opening contest.
How did you get involved with Omega Select Soccer?
I got involved with Omega Select Soccer in 2011 during my eighth grade year. A girl from my previous team, Leavenworth United Soccer Club, told me about Omega Select and told the coach about me.
Gaspard (Omega’s head coach) invited me to the Border Battle Tournament that spring and since then I’ve been playing for him.
Can you talk about the experience you had playing against national teams in the Dominican Republic?
Playing against a national team of any sort is a whole different ball game. These girls play not just for them selves or for each other, but for pride in their country. Every girl on that team was selected from all over, they are the best players the country has to offer.
Therefore, there’s not a player who doesn’t want to be there and perform. It’s a different level of play than club ball and high school. Some of the differences include the speed of play, the commitment of the players and the meetings you have before and after a game to discuss the other teams tactics and how to beat it.
Off the pitch, what was the Dominican like? Did you go sight seeing?
The Dominican is a third world country, so it’s a culture shock when you first arrive. This was my second year going to the Dominican to play. Even though I had been the previous year, it’s still a shock to see all the things there when you first arrive.
During training, we were only allowed to go into the villages surrounding the FIFA center. In the villages, you find young kids doing odd jobs to help get a little money and people living in houses that have no air conditioning.
They also ride motorcycles everywhere because they take up less space. On the last day, we did get to go to Boca Chica beach resort in Boca Chica — that was a fun day for me.
But my highlight of the trip has to be when, after our last game against the Dominican Republic, we gave them some of our things. I gave away my soccer ball, cleats, shirts and shorts. The girls were just ecstatic about receiving all the gifts from all of us because they can't afford these things.
The looks on their faces were something I can never forget. The girls take nothing for granted and to know that I helped out in a small way easily makes it the highlight of my trip.
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Your coach Gaspard D'Alexis has quite an impressive background in soccer; what is he like as a coach?
Gaspard is an amazing coach for any player, especially a player who wants to play in college. I can’t give just one area he has helped me with because he has helped me so much with my all-around game.
For the upcoming Lansing High School season, what are your expectations for the team and yourself?
My expectations for all of the returning girls and some new is that we come out and give it everything we got. For myself, I just want to play to the best of my abilities to help out the team in every way I can.
The key to a successful season will be teamwork — if we all come together on and off the field, it will show in our games.