The spring of 2017 was an important time in the life of Avery Brady. The high school freshman got playing time on the Grain Valley Girls High School Soccer team under the direction of Head Coach Tyler Nichol. Brady attributes much of her offensive growth and being an all-state soccer player to being able to play at the varsity level on a senior laden Eagles squad at such a young age. “My freshman high school season taught me so many things. Coach Nichol allowed me to gain some confidence, be a leader, and to learn how to play a different style of soccer. I wasn’t necessarily a starter or key player on my competition team at that time,” Brady said. “I got the opportunity in high school to play on the varsity team. It was cool to be ‘the freshman’ who played on a high quality team with upperclassmen. The experience turned me into being more of an offensive player, scoring almost every game and assisting on a lot of goals.” Brady continued, “I also got to play a ton of minutes that spring that I didn’t feel like I was getting at the club. In such a short season, I got close with all of my teammates and it makes the end so much harder. Coach Nichol was such a motivational and inspiring coach, that I wish I could have a little more playing time for.” Brady admits her love for soccer stems from her competitive drive to win. Soccer is a sport that has been good to her since she started playing at the age of 9. Along the way she has learned to embrace the nerves experienced before competition as well as striving to do something positive that helps her team win. Motivation for Brady stems from accomplishing things that she has never done before in the sport along with the friendships garnered through playing a team sport. “I play midfielder. In soccer talk, I play the 8 and occasionally the 10. What that means is an offensive and defensive player who can track all over the field and support the flow of the game. I play in one of the two positions that require the most distance running. Which means I need to be able to run a lot,” Brady said. “I like to talk on the field, whether that’s to myself or my teammates, I’m always talking. I think communication is the best way for a team to play in sync. My game mindset is to possess the ball, for as long as possible, and find the right moments to attack. The longer the other team is on defense, the harder it is for them to get momentum to attack.” The United States Soccer Development Academy was founded in 2007. Its purpose was to mold players into elite prospects for its national teams, starting at a young age. The USDA had proclaimed success in producing recent professional soccer players such as Will Trapp, DeAndre Yedlin, and Gyasi Zardes. The United States Soccer Federation announced recently on April 16th that it decided to eliminate the USDA due to the financial situation it is in because of the coronavirus pandemic. Brady made the choice her Freshman year to be a part of the Sporting Blue Valley U-18/19 out of Overland Park, Kansas that played in the USDA league. Success in the form of 100 percent scoring percentage found Brady in the league. Brady scored a goal in all 14 games she played in during the 2019-2020 season. “Joining the development academy was one of the biggest soccer decisions I’d made for myself at the time. Playing with FCKC (my old club team) was like being in a community with my friends and family, so leaving that behind was definitely a struggle,” Brady said. “I was now driving about 2 hours 4 to 6 days a week to attend practices and games with Sporting Blue Valley in Kansas. The development academy provided me with a network of players, coaches, and friends. We play 9 to 10 months out of the year which leaves almost no room for getting ‘rusty’ in the offseason.” “That is one of the main reasons I chose to make the move, knowing that I would have the most time possible for the development of my game before heading to college. While playing in high school is a memorable experience, I knew I would need competitive training leading up to (what I didn’t know yet at the time) playing Division I college soccer in the PAC 12 Conference.” The pressure to choose a college to play for at the age of 16 was admittedly stressful for Brady. Colleges were tightening their timeline and requesting that Brady make a decision soon. New offers and opportunities were opening up at every showcase event she attended. “This was all during my freshman spring, summer, and sophomore fall (2017). I was waiting to hear from multiple colleges (Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma). But then I heard from Coach Rich Manning at Utah,” Brady said. “After the phone call, I remember looking back at my photos I had taken while on my visit to Utah. I stopped at one, a panorama of the mountains surrounding the campus. No other campus had that view. Of course, there were financial considerations, but I was drawn to the scenery as well as the commitment and patience of the coaching staff.” “Another secret most people laugh at, but it was a real factor, is the Power 5 conference (the Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference, and PAC 12 Conference) aspect. I had always had a bias towards big sports schools.” Avery finished, “My favorite part of every visit was walking through the empty football, basketball, and soccer stadiums. I really wanted to be at a school where sports brought everyone together.” Avery is thankful for the impact her club coaches, Coach Nichol, and her parents have had on her ability to grow as a soccer player and as a person.