By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — As a 13-year-old, McAlester’s Jerika Parent couldn’t quite make it into the U.S. Youth Soccer Oklahoma Olympic Development Program in May 2012. So Parent went back to playing club soccer for McAlester United, improving her defensive skills and preparing to repeat the tryout process in October.
A year later and a year older, Parent finds herself in a much happier place. She earned her spot on the ODP Oklahoma 98 team in early May, becoming the third McAlester United player to qualify for the ODP.
“It’ll help me get a lot of experience and more playing time, getting to know the game a lot better and hopefully some opportunities for the future,” Jerika said Friday.
To make the team, Parent said she had to participate in a series of ODP training days held in Bixby and Jenks approximately once a month. Passing and dribbling drills tested her physical skills, while hypothetical in-game scenarios posed by coaches tested her mental skills.
“They would say, ‘You have a two-on-one,’ and they would ask you, ‘Who would you pressure first?’” Parent said. “’Would you come back? What would you do, and once you got the ball, who would you play it to?’
“It taught me mainly mental (skills), how you think about it.”
For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smartphone.