OEFC & US YNT Recognizes Lizzy Passwaters
Written By the Parents of Lizzy Passwaters: Brian and Amber Passwaters
“Lizzy began playing “bumblebee” soccer in the Wilmington, North Carolina area with Topsail Youth Soccer when she was three. She had a blast and when the Hammerheads organization (then a USL team) began a Juniors Academy we decided to enrolled her. The Juniors Academy started 5v5 and placed an emphasis on using both feet and playing with their heads up – even at age eight. If you can’t trust your feet, how can you see the field and play as a team? We believe this was integral to her maturity as a player.
With the Hammers at age nine Lizzy was lucky to be placed on a team that was one age group older than her and it was at this time she really grew into the sport. Her coach – who had national team coaching experience and played at Wake Forest – was simply a difference maker for her. Their practices were well-structured and included video analysis reviewed in a classroom as a team, indoor soccer and even a little homework. At nine, she would demand to go out and practice on her own and when the age group moved to 9v9 and added a keeper, it was a natural fit. Since her dad played soccer growing up as a striker in ODP and briefly in college the only thing he could do was describe what things he would do to beat goalkeepers. He had her work on balance and falling safely in the backyard on large pvc pipes, in driving rain from Hurricane Matthew on 1v1s and watching EPL games where they would pause the TV and talk about GKs and ball movement. She was intense and ate it all up.
In 2017, when Liz was 11, we traded hurricanes and clay in North Carolina for tornados and red dirt here in Oklahoma. We played for a season with a great group of girls (and coach) at Tulsa Soccer Club before finding a home with the Energy. Lizzy’s love of soccer continued and we really focused on her soccer IQ and in-game thought process. We watched a ton of soccer from the Bundesliga to La Liga (and our Spurs in the EPL) and discussed formations, focusing on continuing to not “goaltend” like a hockey player and play the field as a “sweeper-keeper” like Neuer and Ederson; to become the “first attacker” as a #1. Again, we feel like the coaching she received at Hammerheads at such a young age gave her a leg up here.
The U14 GNT regional mini-camp in Dallas was a dream come true for Liz. Playing with the US flags and emblems flapping in the breeze – with and against the best in the region – was awesome. Her recent call-up to the virtual U16 camp was another honor and a credit to the Energy coaching staff Lexi Vizarelis, Gareth Evans and Stephen Phillips for continuing to push and support her. Additionally, we were stoked for Gibson Graham’s call up as well; Liz plays on a great team of full of future college athletes and we are excited to see what the future holds for all of them. She will continue to learn and develop and is looking forward to the U16 virtual camp and spring tournaments!“