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01-11-04: Soccer dreams

Local girls picked to play on international team that will travel to Aruba this summer


Two local girls have been selected to be on the United States Sports Tours USA International soccer team that will travel to play in the Carribbean island nation of Aruba in July.
Jetta Rupert, 14, the daughter of John and Kathy Rupert,1101 W. Spring St., St. Marys, and Ashley Rickard, 14, the daughter of Tammy and Doug Moorman, 515 S. Elm St., and Matt Rickard, all of Celina, will travel with a selected team of American soccer players to the tournament. The team will travel either July 12 or July 19 and stay for a week to practice and play three to six games against Aruban teams.
Sports Tours USA provides American student-athletes ages 9-19 with the opportunity to travel, develop their skills and compete in international tournaments. The organization has helped more than 45,000 athletes travel to play in other countries.
“I was excited when I found out I was going,” Rupert said. “My mom and dad were really happy for me, too. My mom is going to make the trip with me.”
To make the trip all the more special, Rupert and Rickard are long-time friends who played on the Celina Junior High soccer team together in seventh and eighth grade before the Rupert family moved to St. Marys.
“I’ve never been out of the country before,” Rickard said. “I am very excited about leaving the country and playing against people from somewhere else.”
The opportunity to play is not open to everyone. The players are nominated and selected based on exceptional athletic abilities, academic achievements and leadership potential. The selection process includes receiving recommendations from coaches and a thorough interview process. As participants, they will be eligible to be selected as Global All-Americans.
“We were playing at a tournament in Elida and I think that someone there saw us play,” Rupert said. “It wasn’t long after that that we were nominated.”
Both were notified of their selection to the team Dec. 2.
As part of the Sports Tours USA, both girls could become eligible for several grants and scholarship to help them with college.
Rickard said she received a brief letter from one of the teammates in California with a few questions. Other than that, both girls said they do not know who their other team members will be.
“We will not even practice together for the first time until we are in Aruba,” Rupert said.
Both girls are currently seeking sponsors to help pay for the trip. Checks can be made to Sports Tours USA.
“This is a once in a lifetime thing,” Rupert said. “I feel lucky that I was picked to go.”
“I’m just eager to learn to be a better player and getting to meet some new people,” Rickard said. “I think it will be a lot of fun.”


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