Q5 with Monica Amthor, who recently played in an international tournament in the Dominican Republic.

Lansing sophomore Monica Amthor recently concluded an international soccer tournament in the Dominican Republic. Joined by fellow Lady Lion teammate Shelby Potter, Amthor’s Omega Select team went 1-0-2 and beat the Dominican U17 girls’ national team 4-3 in its opening exhibition game.

How did you get involved with Omega Select Soccer?
After playing on a lower division soccer team for five years, I was ready to move up to a more competitive level. I researched soccer teams and found Omega.

There, I could see that I would have more opportunities, so I started playing for them in the fall of 2011.

The coach played me on four teams with one team being five years above my age level and the highest division of club soccer.

After a few months of playing with the club team, Gaspard (Amthor’s coach) asked me to go to a tournament with the Select team. I have been playing with them since.
I have played in Dallas, Las Vegas and St. Louis. I left for San Diego on July 25.

I enjoy playing for the team because the team does everything together (i.e. room together, eat together) and because Gaspard brings people from all over the U.S. and Canada to play on the Select Team. I will always meet someone new.

I also like that we pray before every game and meal. We always take a pre-game walk together and focus on the coming game.

Can you talk about the experience you had playing against national teams in the Dominican Republic?
International soccer has a lot faster pace than high school soccer. The players are much more focused and professional when it is time to play. In high school, the girls focus more on playing for themselves than as a team. An international player does their job and trusts that her teammate will do theirs.

The language difference was a little trouble, but not as much as I thought. The international players are much stronger and faster.

Off the pitch, what was the Dominican like? Did you go sight seeing?
The area of the Dominican that we stayed in was poor, but the people there were nice. It is very humid, but it would cool off for an hour or so after it rained.

The streets were rarely marked and you would every so often find a stop light or stop sign. The streets are very compact with motorcycles weaving in and out of gaps in the traffic. It was scary.

We did not go sightseeing but we would walk through the village every day to buy fruit and supplies. My favorite thing we did was to go to the beach for the last day to relax because the water was very clear and the sand was white.

The highlights of my trip were winning against the Dominican Women’s National Team and also donating as much stuff to the Dominican team as we could. If I get to go next year, I want to bring a lot more things to give to them because they do not have the things that Americans are lucky enough to have.
Your coach Gaspard D'Alexis has quite an impressive background in soccer; what is he like as a coach?
Gaspard is a great coach and mentor. When he tells you to do something, he expects you to do it. He knows the game from every perspective and is able to turn any determined athlete into a soccer player.  He notices your strengths and pushes you to be the best you can be.

For example, I came to Gaspard as a defender and he made me a forward. He has helped me improve my skill and speed. He definitely corrected my running form. He can see all the little things that need to be improved and he knows how to make those corrections.

He also teaches us about life skills and being a good person. For instance, at tournaments he expects us to behave professionally. If we track mud or grass into the hotel, we have to clean it up even if they insist that they will clean it up for us.

For the upcoming Lansing High School season, what are your expectations for the team and yourself?
For myself, I look forward to bringing more experience and skills to our team. The Dominican trip gave me much more courage and confidence.

As for my teammates, I hope to see better communication and team focus. I have a better understanding that if the team fails then each one of us has failed.

The key to a successful season will be a well-bonded team. Without trust in each other, the team cannot perform successfully.