A Columbus Girl's Journey to the U.S. Youth Futsal National Team
Name: Audrey Gibson-Zweifel
Team: Columbus Futsal Cira
Futsal Experience: >2 years
Outdoor Club: Club Ohio Hilliard
It wasn't long after her first summer of travel futsal that Audrey began to ask her coach, Dante Garcia, if she was ready to attend the State ID trials in Akron, OH for the U.S. Youth Futsal National Team. She had played the pivo position all summer 2016 and she started to improve her skill and learn the game. It then began to re-spark a fire-y passion within her. One she had since her first recreational soccer team at the Hilltop YMCA. Audrey knew one day, she was going to do something BIG!
Audrey's parents and Coach Dante discussed that she would need more training and experience before attempting the State ID trials. They passed on the trials in 2016 and prepared for 2017.
This is a girl with a plan!
During the 2016-17 season, Audrey trained two-three times a week with the Columbus Futsal Academy and competed in the Columbus Futsal League, the OVFL, NFPL, and USYF Great Lakes Regional. The next closest State ID trial was in Louisville, KY in February 2017.
"Audrey is awesome. She's a girl on a mission to better herself and those around her. She's very bright and catches you off guard with her clever sense of humor. One could say her hard work and willingness to learn is what separates her from other players. I say it's because she dreams. She has a big imagination. She dreams, then loves to force herself to focus and make those dreams become a reality." - Coach Dante Garcia
When she arrived in Louisville she was greeted by Ty Stauffer, former USFNT Head Coach and current Director of Coaching for USYF. Ty runs a nationally known futsal program in Kentucky called SportsTutor, so you could imagine by now she was feeling a bit nervous. Going into the State ID trial she wanted to tryout as a pivo, she is comfortable with her back toward the goal and can dish out a nice push pass to create scoring opportunities. But that didn't happen at all. Turns out, they preferred she try out as goleiro, which she also played in futsal and is the goal-keeper for her outdoor team. She attended the weekend-long ID trial with three other club mates from Columbus Futsal. One, in specific, is current futsal and soccer teammate, Caitlyn Chittum. Two weeks later, they received notification that they had all passed the State ID! Next stop: NEW CENTURY, KANSAS.
From February to July, it was training upon training upon training. Goleiro training went heavy with Coach Dante, Coach Alex, and Coach Junyor. Prep camp with Coach Otto was an eye-opener. Even her outdoor goal keeper coach played for the Columbus Futsal Pro team. She is very fortunate to have these talented people to work with and aid in her dream!
From across the pond, one particular women's professional futsal player took notice. Leanne Skarratt from Manchester Futsal Club in England even sent her an autographed jersey for good luck!
The day finally came. The day they all had to travel to Kansas for the National ID trials. You honestly wouldn't even begin to know how to describe it until you have actually experienced it. You show up in Kansas for USYFNT trials and you're training three times a day...day after day after day. You are matched-up with and against talent you may not be familiar with. Talent and playing styles from all over the country. And you have to adjust. You have to acclimate and you have to learn fast and perform well. But most importantly, you have to have FUN doing it and you have to love every minute of it! That's one thing about AGZ2; she is a smart player. She makes adjustments. She analyzes. She uses the proper technique she was taught and takes away from her experiences to move forward.
This is a note she shared with her club mates at Columbus Futsal about her experience:
"First I would like to thank Dante for making this all happen. Next I think I should talk to you
all about how important behavior is in this situation, everybody, every coach,
every parent is watching, conversing and evaluating you not only based on your skills
but on your attitude and the way you present yourself and your club. Also I
believe that when you go you should prepare yourself not to make a team your
first year so if you don’t make it then you were ready for news that will
hopefully encourage you to go back and make the team the following year. You
should focus on playing the best futsal you know and also make sure to come
back and be able to share something you learned about the game while you were
there. One of the things coaches are most looking for is the fact that you
understand for yourself that you don’t know everything about futsal and there
is definitely more you can learn and that you want to learn. Never be afraid to
ask questions. Personally I enjoyed being there because not only was I playing
futsal but I was playing with skillful, fast, and knowledgeable players. One of
the difference in Columbus play vs. National play is the speed of play, how
fast they get the ball off their feet, taking constant shots, including
everybody on their team, using fly keeper or 5th attacker technique. You have
to show everything you know and even try something new, that's unexpected and
that wows and draws the coaches attention. Also they said on the USYF website
that, the way they ranked you was 1-3, one was the best. 1) Technically,
physically, tactically, psychologically, stands out while showing special
quality in all areas. 2) Usually deficient in one or two areas may or may not
have special attributes. 3) Usually deficient in several areas when compared to
top players without unique attributes. I think if you are a 1 good but you most
likely have things to work on too so keep at it. But if you are a 3, it doesn’t
mean you will never be as good as a 1 ranked player but you just have to keep
working hard and prove coaches wrong. In soccer I have never been to state pool
I've just always made district but I keep going back and keep showing them how
I've improved as a player and I continually keep trying to prove them wrong. So
if you don’t make it the first time go back and try again. Just always remember
it doesn’t only matter how good you are, you also have to have a good attitude
and step on the court because futsal is fun."
Just weeks after receiving news that she did not make the ODP state pool, she proved herself in Kansas and made the U.S. Youth Futsal National Team for the 2004 girls! She was also chosen as an alternate to play up for the USYFNT trip to Costa Rica this past July.
Friend and teammate, Caitlyn Chittum, was chosen as one of four alternates for the 2004 team, as well! If one player cannot attend or is injured, she will be called up alongside Audrey Gibson-Zweifel.
The 2004 G USYFNT plans to travel to either Montreal or Ontario in Canada later this year for international matches. There is nothing further to do at this time other than celebrate Columbus' USYFNT players selected and continue their hard work to represent the red, white, and blue!
The USYF National ID process is led by Soorena Farboodmanesh and Keith Tozer.