Sixteen young ladies from Humboldt County are about to embark on the trip of a lifetime to Europe. Members of the U14 Rapids in the Eel River Youth Soccer League have the honor of being only one of two teams (out of 800) from the United States to participate in the Pitea Summer Games in Sweden. The girls will also get to carry the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony of the Summer Games, as they march through the streets of Pitea, Sweden.
"The thrill of playing soccer on foreign soil is an experience the girls are looking forward to," said Rapids Europe Team Manager Sunni Killfoil. "Seeing and meeting players from teams all over the world is something they have only imagined until now," Killfoil added.
The team leaves June 21 and will spend several days practicing at the Sport Hotel in Sittard on the Germany/Holland border. They will receive professional training by Dutch coaches and will play three matches. They will also do some sightseeing in Germany, Holland, and Belgium.
"The girls are getting very excited as the date for travel comes closer," Killfoil said.
For the past six months, the Humboldt County girls have been communicating via Skype, email and Facebook with Sweden's Pitea IF, their host team. On June 28, the two teams will play a pre-Summer Games match to kick off the nationally televised Sweden Women's Professional Soccer team match. The Pitea Summer Games take place from June 29 to July 1, and the Humboldt County team will play matches against teams from Finland and Sweden.
The team worked very hard to raise the money necessary to make the trip, including holding yard sales, raffles, and selling See's Candy. The most successful fundraiser event was a Valentine's Dinner & Auction held in February at the Scotia Inn. This event raised approximately $20,000, covering close to one-third of the cost of the trip.
This past weekend, the Rapids played their last two Europe preparation games and ended their pre-travel season with an overall record of 9-0-1. They ended their Spring season atop the Southern Oregon Classic League with a record of 7-0-1.
Eel River Youth Soccer League U14 Rapids members are: Emily Carter, Faith Tomasini, Samantha Killfoil, Meghan Hollyman, and Taylor Ruhland of Fortuna, Tawnya Thomsen of Loleta, Sunny Elliott of Miranda, Ursula Harwood of Whitethorn, Julia Hohman of Hydesville, Raylani Reis of Redway, Maddie and Hannah Hart of Arcata, Terra Clarke of Willow Creek, Olivia Ritter of Eureka, Savannah Aiello of Bayside, and Ivy Ricca of McKinleyville.
Photo by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon
Members of the Eel River Youth Soccer U14 Rapids team celebrate with their coaches in Ashland, Ore., in May of this year after clinching first place in the Southern Oregon Competitive Soccer League.