Santa Catalina School sophomore Niamh Burke has made the State Olympic Development Program soccer team for Northern California, and was selected to play in the western regional championships in Phoenix over Christmas Break.
The Olympic Development Program (ODP) trains youth soccer players for possible promotion to national teams that compete in events such as the Youth World Cup and the Olympics.
Outside of Catalina, Niamh participates in the Monterey County Futbol Club. According to the Monterey County Weekly, she was one of six players from the club, and the only girl, to make the Cal North ODP team. Overall, she was one of 35 girls to make the team from a pool of about 95 players.
"I was extremely happy and surprised when I found out I made the team," Niamh says. "It was my third time trying out for the ODP team, so I just feel beyond blessed that I have this amazing opportunity." Playing in the western regional championships was another thrill. "Being able to represent Northern California in this tournament was pretty awesome. ... It was so cool to be able to showcase my talents while playing with some of the best players from the state."
Niamh hopes to bring the skills she learns on the ODP team back to the Cougars, who started the new year with back-to-back wins. The center midfielder is having a strong season so far, scoring a career-high six goals against Anzar on January 8. "The team is off to a great start," she says. "We are scoring lots of goals and working great as a team."