Riverside student makes U.S. team for 2009 Buenos Aires games
May 19, 2009
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( www.lasierra.edu )She never imagined it would turn out this way, but Georgia Anagnos’s childhood interest in soccer has led her to the world stage.
Next month, Anagnos, a sophomore exercise science and pre-med major at La Sierra University, will team up with upwards of 16 female soccer players from universities and colleges around the United States to play against women’s soccer teams in Argentina. They will compete in the 2009 Buenos Aires Goodwill Soccer Games June 4 through 10, a competitive series organized by La Boca Club, Argentina’s largest sports club.
The U.S. team members, after congregating in Atlanta, will fly to Argentina on June 2. The following day they will tour Buenos Aires and hold a practice session in preparation for at least five games against Argentine women’s soccer teams.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to go this far,” said Anagnos, who is considering a future career as an orthopedic surgeon. “I just played because I loved it. I never let anyone tell me I couldn’t do something.”
USA Athletes International Inc., a nonprofit amateur sports tour organization in Olathe, Kan. formed the U.S. female soccer team, drawing players from colleges and universities in California, Texas, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington and other states. In addition to La Sierra, participating schools include Pomona College, Claremont, Calif., Virginia Wesleyan College, Norfolk, Va., the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn. and King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, Penn.
“It’s [Goodwill Soccer Games] really an educational opportunity facilitated by athletic events,” said Darrell Phipps, program coordinator for USAAI. In addition to cultural tours of the Buenos Aires area, U.S. team members will have opportunities after each match to talk with their Argentine counterparts and get to know them, Phipps said.
Anagnos, age 20, lives in Riverside with her parents and 15-year-old brother, also a soccer player. Her family encouraged Anagnos to pursue a well-rounded life that included sports and outdoor activities. When Anagnos was around age seven she joined the American Youth Soccer Organization. Later on, she opted for a tougher challenge and tried out for private soccer clubs that require a higher level of performance to get on a team. Still, soccer was simply a fun hobby for Anagnos. She had no goal of high-level competition or of entering overseas games one day. “I wasn’t really expecting to play in college. So many more doors opened up from there. I never expected anything like this,” she said.
While attending Woodcrest High School, her skills caught the attention of La Sierra University Golden Eagles women’s soccer Coach Kip Shipley. He heard about Anagnos and her soccer playing abilities from one of the student’s former club coaches. “I went and watched her play. She had everything I was looking for in a player,” Shipley said. “We needed someone to come in and take control of our defense. She had the ability and intelligence on the field to do that beginning her freshman year.”
The coach continued, “as a player she has the ability to not only defend extremely well, but she also can start the attack out of the back. She wins balls and plays them into attacking players. Then she also comes forward to finish, which is evidenced by her collecting several game-winning goals.”
For the past two years, Anagnos has played defense for the LSU Golden Eagles women’s soccer team and steadily progressed as a player. “She has developed a higher level of understanding of the game. Her positioning and ability to read the flow of play is something that I would expect out of a senior. Yet she has developed it early in her college career,” Shipley said.
“The highest complement I can give Georgia is that even though she is one of the best players I have worked with she is still very coachable,” he said. “Her talent, drive and determination make her a better player each time she steps on the field yet she still listens to coaches in an effort to learn more. Georgia is one of those players that makes everyone around her look better.”
Shipley nominated Anagnos to the Goodwill Soccer Games team, a decision confirmed by other college coaches. La Sierra University is a member of the NCAA Division III Independent schools. In 2007, the NCAA Div. IIII voted Anagnos the Independent Freshman of the Year. She is also a two-time NCAA Div. III Independent All-American, landing on the division’s national squad in 2007 and 2008, each time along with three other members of LSU’s Golden Eagles women’s soccer team.
At La Sierra, under Shipley’s direction, Anagnos learned the art of team playing, of “relying on each other a lot and believing in yourself to do everything you need to do to get it done,” she said.
Anagnos is excited about participating in the Goodwill Soccer Games. She is playing off-season games with the LSU soccer team and running to increase strength and stamina. She has already made cyberspace connections with a couple of her U.S. teammates through interactions on Facebook. Her family is planning to attend the games in Argentina to cheer her on. The 20-year-old has never traveled outside of the United States and is a bit worried about the swine flu threat abroad, she said.
Meanwhile, she’s learning a new sport, softball. Anagnos tried out for the LSU softball team five months ago and ended up making the team as its starting first baseman. She’s also contemplating a future tryout with a semi-professional soccer team, the Ventura County Fusion. Anagnos’s advice to other young people? “Never give up,” she said, on reaching your goals or trying new ventures.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University