In part three of our new interview series, Challenge Soccer Club recently caught up with current Challenge 99 ECNL left winger, Alyssa Malonson, as she was returning from her first stint with the US National Team in Carson, CA.
In addition to her recent US National Camp invite, Alyssa has previously been involved with US Club Soccer's id2 National Program and is currently the #69 rated 2017 grad in the country, according to Top Drawer Soccer. A diminutive left sided player, Alyssa has earned a reputation as the most dangerous winger in the Texas Conference and one of the most dynamic in the country. She is a life long Challenge player and was good enough to offer a little insight on her time with Challenge, the national team, the current ECNL season, and the college process.
1. Congratulations of being selected to your first camp with the US National Team! Describe the experience and what did you enjoy most about it?
Thanks so much! I was so nervous but also really excited! Everyone there was such an amazing athlete so the competition was intense but all of the girls were so nice. It was cool meeting girls from all over the country as well as meeting a few girls from Dallas and Austin who I play against in ECNL conference games. The training sessions were tough and I went to bed exhausted each night. I definitely learned a lot though and came home confident that I can continue to play at that level. We did get away from the training center for a day and spent it on the beach in Malibu. That was amazing!
2. You have played with Challenge since you were 7 years old. How has Challenge helped prepare you for opportunities with the National Team, id2, and ECNL?
The training I have received from Challenge coaches is what has made the difference. My technical skills have improved tremendously due to the consistency of training by my coaches and their dedication to us. They have provided extra practices that have focused on individual skills and I love going to them. At both the id2 and National Team camps, the coaches mainly had me playing a defensive position. Knowing that, Challenge has tried to put me in that position occasionally so I can strengthen those skills that are different from the left forward position I typically play. I can't thank my coaches enough!
3. What is your best memory from your early years in Challenge?
I have a lot of great memories with Challenge, but the one that I loved the most was when we went to a lake at the Austin Labor Day Cup back when I was U13. We stayed there all afternoon and the water was freezing cold but we all just jumped in and had a great time (even with the nasty algae at the bottom, which took us awhile to get used to. Yuck!).
4. The college process has recently started for you. How has that been going and what have you been doing to navigate what can be a complicated time?
It has been so overwhelming! First off, trying to decide where I might like to go and if that school is a good fit for me has taken a lot of time and just has been tough. My coaches (Chris Maravalli and Stuart Self) have been awesome with sitting down with me to help create a list of colleges that is realistic and achievable. They put in a lot of time with us off the field, answering questions, and talking to college coaches! I also went to Pat’s (O'Toole) club college recruiting meeting and that was informative as well because he gave us suggested timelines and sample emails to look at when creating our own lists. I've put together a spreadsheet with the different schools’ information so I can record the date of the email or phone conversation I had with each coach; it's been a big help. After sending my first emails to different schools, it was so exciting to see some of those coaches show up to see me play at the Phoenix tournament. My coaches have been great in keeping me informed about what schools are showing interest and the feedback they have received from the college coaches; they have made it so much easier.
5. Your team has had a great season so far! What seems to be clicking for the team and what are you most looking forward to over the remainder of the season?
I'm looking forward to hopefully advancing to the ECNL Champions League playoffs this year! We are currently 25th in the country and have a great chance at getting there! Our team has gotten a lot closer which has helped us improve a lot. When we go to out of town games, we hangout in each others' rooms all the time as a team. I think we all really like each other and we laugh a lot which makes it so easy for us to be together. More of us are communicating on the field during games and we trust each other. I know that I always have ten other girls on the field who will back me up when I need help and I think that we all feel that way. It has been a great season so far and we can't wait to get started again after the Holidays.
6. Going into the second half of your u15 year, what do you think you need to improve the most, what are your long term goals, and how are you going to achieve them? At the national training camp, I was placed as a left back which is a position I don’t play often so based on that, I really need to improve on my serving with both feet. I also need to work on my physical strength and not getting knocked off the ball. My long-term goal is to play soccer at a high level division one university so I’m going to continue to lean on my coaches to improve my technical game as well as trying to be a leader both on and off the field.