Euro Trip

March 11, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Most college freshmen spend their first summer away from school back in their hometowns, working a part-time job and catching up with old high school friends. Alex Melin, a freshman on the University of Iowa women’s soccer team, will spend part of her summer playing the game she loves in a part of the world that worships the sport.

Melin was recently invited to travel to Belgium, Germany, and Holland with the United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) Select Girls U19 team. The all-star team, which includes 20 elite level players from across the country, will spend nine days touring Europe, while playing two exhibition games against local club teams. Stops on the tour include Brussels, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Heidelberg and other cities in the area.

Not only will Melin travel with elite players, she will get the chance to see the top players in the world compete. The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup will take place in Germany during Melin’s stay. Part of the trip’s itinerary is catching two matches of the biggest women’s soccer tournament in the world.

“I’m really excited to see World Cup games in person,” said Melin. “It will be a great chance to watch the best players in the world. I’ve heard it’s a crazy atmosphere. Definitely something you can’t experience in the United States.”

Iowa women’s soccer head coach Ron Rainey believes Melin’s trip will give her extra motivation heading into her sophomore campaign.

“One of the neat things about an overseas trip is being immersed in a soccer culture, especially when there is a major tournament going on in the Women’s World Cup,” said Rainey. “I think those are things that leave a deep impression on a player.”

While Melin is excited to see the world’s best compete on the sport’s biggest stage, she is also thrilled to have the opportunity to train with some of the best at the collegiate level.

“It will be great competition on the team,” said Melin. “I was really happy when I got the call, because I really wanted to play on this team. These are some of the best young players in the country. Players of that caliber will only make me better.”

Rainey is excited to see what Melin learns from her trip, especially on the pitch.

“The coaching, training and competition on this trip will be excellent,” said Rainey. “That experience heading into her sophomore year will have her eyes wide open heading into the fall.”

Melin and the Hawkeyes are currently taking part in their own “spring training” with offseason workouts in full swing. Iowa has already had two competitions resulting in two clean sheets; a 6-0 win over Drake and a 1-0 win at Nebraska. Rainey is very pleased with his teams’ efforts this spring.

“There is a huge emphasis on conditioning and individual development,” said Rainey. “The team has done well and has had success in games. We have been working very hard, but I think it has been fun work. We’ve gotten off to a nice start in the spring season.”

While Melin is focused on spring workouts with the team, she can’t wait to get to Europe and soak in the experience.

“The trip is in the back of my mind right now because we are so focused on improving during the spring,” said Melin. “We are taking care of business right now. But, I am thinking about it and it’s going to be a great experience.”