Alumni Corner: Leslie Osborne, the high school years

Alumni Corner: Leslie Osborne, the high school years

Welcome to Week 2 of Leslie Osborne’s Alumni Corner: the high school and recruiting years

Thank you to the team at ECNL for partnering with SoccerNation for this series!

Last week, we met Leslie Osborne. She grew up in Wisconsin, where she played her youth club soccer and got her biggest growth opportunities through the ODP program.

Read all about ODP here.

Leslie’s high school soccer and recruiting

Leslie eventually played NCAA D1 college soccer. She also played on the US Women’s National Team. Before the national team, however, there were years of youth soccer and recruiting. I asked Leslie what made the biggest difference for her. What were the factors that led to eventually being heavily recruited for college soccer?

Playing with the boys

“The best thing I could have done when I was younger,” Leslie explained, “was playing with the boys teams. Up until about thirteen years old, I trained and scrimmaged with the boys teams at my club. It helped me so much. I got faster. And stronger.”

Youth National Team

Eventually, Leslie was scouted and identified for the US Youth National Team program. I asked her how she was identified for YNT. She told me, “It was really ODP, and my coach, John Burke. We didn’t have awesome programs like DA and ECNL back then. On ODP, I made the state team and the regional team for ODP. That’s where I was scouted for the youth national team.”

College recruiting during freshman year of high school

Leslie continued, “It was really at the national team camps where my college recruiting happened. My first call to the Youth National Team was during my freshman year of high school. There was a lot of college recruiting happening then. But I didn’t know where I wanted to go yet. I continued being called into the national team. And I was being recruited quite a bit from that. John [Burke] was such a blessing. He was also my high school soccer coach, and he’s great.”

College choice made: Santa Clara

I asked Leslie when she committed to a college program. “During my junior year of high school. That’s when I committed to Santa Clara. The program there and the coaches were a perfect fit for me.” (more about college soccer next week — stay tuned!)

Best advice: play with both feet

Was there anything in particular that helped her stand out at YNT camps, I asked? “Oh, absolutely. I could play with both feet. It’s not as rare as it used to be, because there are more girls now that can play well with both feet. But there still aren’t a lot of girls that can move, carry the ball, pass, and finish confidently with both feet. That was my biggest strength during those Youth National Team years for sure, and even later on the Women’s National Team. If a player wants to improve, that’s the number one thing I’d recommend working on.”

“When I was going through the Youth National Team camps, I was the only player versatile enough to play left-footed. They put me at left wing, but I could also cut inside and play well with my right. It was my biggest strength back then. It really helped me stand out and get playing time during those important years.”

Thank you so much, Leslie, for sharing your story with SoccerNation families!

Stay tuned for next week’s edition: PEAK SOCCER, where we will journey through Leslie’s top years. NCAA Championships. World Cups. Pro soccer. She did it all.

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