Scary good: Daly makes ODP team
About two months ago, Kingsbury Middle School student Hannah Daly dominated the Tah-Neva League track championships with first-place finishes in the high jump, long jump and 100-meter dash. Had she been competing for Whittell High School, Daly’s mark of 5 feet in the high jump and her time of 13.40 seconds in the 100-meter dash would’ve won state titles for the Warriors in the Nevada 2A Track and Field championships.
Then just last week, Daly was the youngest athlete in her age group at the Junior Olympics in Baltimore. Competing against mostly 15-year-olds, the 14-year-old Daly placed 18th in the heptathlon. Also a standout basketball player, she came away feeling good about her performance, but really couldn’t wait to start playing …
“Soccer,” Daly said, almost chuckling when comparing the sports she plays. “I like track, but track is more about jumping as far as you can and running as fast as you can. In soccer, there is a lot more things going on. It’s more exciting.”
Soccer certainly got more exciting for Daly last month, when she was selected to the 36-member Olympic Development Program (ODP) Region IV team for her age group. After making the Under-15 Nevada ODP team, Daly traveled to Moscow, Idaho, and played against 250 of the best players in the western United States on the region’s 13 other state teams (California is split into Cal-South and Cal-North).
An athletic goalkeeper with natural instincts, Daly was one of only three players from Nevada to be selected for the team and the only one from Northern Nevada. Not bad considering she didn’t even make the Nevada state team last year.
“I was the only person from the north last year and the other girls were all from Las Vegas,” said Daly, an incoming freshman at Whittell. “So I’d go down there and practice and nobody would really know me. I guess I had to make a stand (this year).”
Daly’s advancement through the ODP process, which is typical path to make the U.S. National Team, is the most successful the South Shore has seen since Leon Abravanel made the Region IV ODP team. Abravanel, a former Cal-North state team member who led South Tahoe High School to the 4A state title in 2003, is entering his junior season as a scholarship player with the University of San Diego.
Jeff Cade, director of coaching for the Northern Nevada ODP team, believes Daly is also destined to play Division I soccer. He first saw her play in the Great Basin Soccer League for the Carson City-based Carson Wonders youth club team. Within minutes, Cade knew he was witnessing something special.
“Right away I knew she was a standout,” Cade said. “Not only was she a great kid, she was technically very sound and a hard worker with good height and good range. If she stays healthy and keeps her grades up, she will have no problem excelling at the collegiate level and maybe even beyond that.”
The next step up in Daly’s quest to make the U.S. National Team is a series of tournaments this fall, when her ODP Region IV team will play against other regional teams or club teams from around the nation. (There are four ODP regional teams: West, Midwest, South and East).
National-level coaches will continue to evaluate Daly before they select a group of players for the Under-15 U.S. National Team. Even if she doesn’t make the national team this year, Daly feels the entire ODP experience is invaluable.
“I play for the Carson Wonders, a small club, and I am used to winning a lot of my games,” Daly said. “I don’t get challenged that much. But when you get to this level, it’s like ‘Wow.’ They challenge the ball all the time and it’s a huge step. I had to adapt, but I feel like I can compete. I know what to expect and what the coaches are expecting for next year.”