Like every young female soccer player in the country, former Sacred Heart Prep superstar and Daily Journal Girls Soccer Player of the Year Abby Dahlkemper has been glued to her television set or computer taking in the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany.
But the difference between everyone else and Dahlkemper is that donning the red, white and blue one day and representing the United States is an actual possibility for her.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know all about Dahlkemper and her stellar career as a Gator. In four seasons at SHP, Dahlkemper has been at the forefront of one of the best girls soccer programs in the Central Coast Section.
Yet, what might have been lost to those out of loop, is Dahlkemper’s rise up the United States soccer ranks. Recently, she received a callup to the Under-20 national team as a defender — she is one the youngest members on that team that will report to Los Angeles July 23.
"They just announced the location of the U-20 World Cup. It’s in Uzbekistan,” Dahlkemper said, "This is the last camp before the college season starts. So this is early preparation. These are pretty important camps. We’re excited about that (and) these camps that you’re invited to are super important to show well and hopefully get invited back.”
Considering the noise she’s been making on the national scene, invitations to these camps seem like a formality for the ex-Gator.
It was quite the senior season for Dahlkemper. It started with a pretty serious ankle injury that put her out of commission for four months. She recuperated in time for the start of the high school season and even after an admittedly slow start by her lofty standards, Dahlkemper managed to dominate as she had in three previous seasons. It wasn’t just at SHP, but her club team, the MVLA Avalanche.
Her play caught the attention of the U-20 national team decision makers, who invited her to join the team as they made a trip to La Manga, Spain. Her callup came in the middle of SHP’s run through the CCS playoffs as the No. 3 seed in Division III.
"My senior year was probably one of the funnest years (I’ve had),” Dahlkemper said. "I couldn’t play my last senior year game which we ended up losing and that was kind of a bummer. But I couldn’t miss an opportunity to go to a national team camp. As much as I loved high school, it was definitely hard (but) I know everyone knew I made the right decision. It’s tough. You got to do what you got to do, take those opportunities and not take anything for granted.”
With the senior season over, it became time for Dahlkemper to choose where to play her college soccer. She choose UCLA, thus joining one of the most talented and deepest recruiting classes in school history. Eleven players signed letters of intent to join the Bruins, including nine other national team standouts. It’s an unbelievable accumulation of talent for UCLA and an equally huge opportunity for Dahlkemper. For her, the choice was pretty simple.
"One, I definitely clicked better with the UCLA girls,” she said. "I had a better experience on my visit there, which was pretty important to me. I felt like I really connected with the coaches better at UCLA as well. The program is super promising this year, I just like to be a part of something that. We’re going through this together, 11 freshman that make it through four years. It’s kind of cool to see how we can change the program.”
Dahlkemper goes into the program as arguably the best freshman defender in the country. It’s a bit of switch for her after spending time lighting up the scoreboard with goals as a Gator.
"It’s so fun attacking and going forward,” she said. "But I think it kind of helps me understand the forwards and what they’re thinking (when they’re attacking). I was willing to play any position that can help the team do well. If it’s attacking, I’ll attack. If it’s defending, I’ll defend.”
For now, she’ll be content enjoying the rest of the women’s World Cup with the rest of the globe.
And if all goes according to plan, the idea of seeing Dahlkemper sporting the U.S jersey at the 2015 World Cup in Canada is a strong possibility.