Kim Myers has made a name for herself in local soccer circles as a three-year starting goalie at Glen Burnie High.
Having been blessedwith the physical attributes that are perfect for her position -- she stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 155 pounds -- skill never has been a problem. Bad luck and injuries, on the other hand, have plagued the two-time All-County and All-Metro selection in her quest for national recognition.
In each of the last two summers, Myers has come within a hair of making the U.S. Olympic Developmental Program's Under-19 national team, only to be held back by injuries.
Last year, it was the right knee. The year before, the right elbow.
"Each time, I thought it was going to be my year," said Myers, one of four Marylanders -- and the only local -- chosen to last year's Region I squad.
Myers gets another chance in tomorrow's subregional round at Ben Lomand Park in Manassas, Va. There, she and three other countians will join 16 Maryland team members as the Olympic Developmental Program starts narrowingdown its choices for the girls Under-19 national soccer team.
"Right now, everything is great," said Myers, who graduated from Glen Burnie this past spring and has received a full soccer scholarship to Rutgers University.
"I've been running about two miles a day and lifting weights, so I'm much stronger physically since last year. My leg strength has really improved, and I have lots more range and confidence."
The mentally taxing, summer-long, nationwide selection process places the girls under a microscope, where their skills are scrutinized and rated across several categories on a scale from 1 to 5 -- 5 being the best -- by a host of coaches and ODP officials.
By late July or early August, the process will near completion as four 18-member regional squads compete against each other. In the end, the four teams will form the pool from which about 25 players will determinethe national team.
In her fourth try last year, Severna Park graduate Betsy Anderson narrowly missed the final cut for the Region I squad, which consists of girls from 13 states (15 different teams) along the East Coast.
"This is my fifth year in the program, and, hopefully, the experience will help me since I'm one of the older girls,"said Anderson, who will play soccer this fall at North Carolina State University on a partial athletic scholarship. "Last year, I did my best. I made the regional camp."
Allison Nethan and Kelly Dryden, who will be seniors at Chesapeake and Meade high schools, respectively, next year, are also on the Under-19 state team in the ODP. The four girls also play on the Columbia Crusaders' five-time State Cup champion soccer squad in the U.S. Youth Soccer Association.
"I've really learned a lot about myself in the ODP, like what level I can compete on," said Nethan, 17, who plays sweeper in high school and midfielder with the Crusaders.
"This is my third year in the ODP. Last year, I went as a goalie, and my big thing was working on height and jumping," said Nethan, who stands barely 5-foot-3. "I'm going as a field player this year and with my experience, I know more of what to expect. I've already made the adjustment to playing in the midfield withthe Crusaders. Being a goalie taught me to look at the whole field."
She'll be part of a competitive field at this weekend's subregionals, which include eight teams from Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The tryout marks the beginning of what promises to be a busy summer of soccer for the foursome.
Shortlyafter returning from Virginia, they'll be leaving for the USYSA regional playoffs in quest of a national title at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
Tournament games begin Thursday and will be played every day until the finalists for Sunday's championship game are determined.
The Crusaders are making their first appearance on the Under-19 level.
They were regional runners-up at the Under-17 level the past two seasons, losing both times to Willingboro, N.J., last year's eventual national champion.
They'll face a tough first-round opponent in Vista United, which dethroned the defending national-champion Fairfax Express as this year's Virginia State Cup champion.Crusaders coach Anita Andersch isn't sure her squad won't be sent home early.
"We've got a talented team, but this is the toughest draw that we've ever had. We're going to have to play excellent soccer -- not just good soccer," said Andersch, who coaches the Crusaders with her husband, Roy.
"We've handily beaten our opponents over the past two years. But this time, we're hitting the tournament's odds-on favorite in the first round."
No matter how the Crusaders do in Amherst, the locals who are fortunate enough to make it past tomorrow'sODP subregionals will have to decide whether to stay in Massachusetts or come home. The ODP's four-day, 15-team identification weekend will begin at the same site July 11.
Later this summer, most likely after the USYSA national tournament in late August, a five-day regional camp will yield the four regional teams from which the national team will be chosen.