4 Suburban High School Athletes To Compete In World Cup Of Youth Soccer

Lisa Fielding
July 11, 2019 - 7:50 am
Four young women from the Chicago suburbs are heading to the World Cup of Youth Soccer.

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- It was 92 degrees on a Deerfield soccer field on Wednesday, as four young women were getting in their last practices before heading to the World Cup of Youth Soccer.

"These girls have been together since they were 9-years old. They train three or four days a week year around," said Greg Bowers, Head Coach, Pegasus FC US 16 Girls.

One thousand young girls tried out to be chosen as part of the Global Premier Soccer U15 National Team which will compete in the Gothia Cup, known as the World Cup of Youth Soccer.

"I wasn't shocked that four of these girls made the team. These kids work ridiculously hard. A lot of their friends are sitting on a lake all summer. They're here. They want to get better, they want to improve and now they are getting the reward," he said.

Hannah Mekky, 15, Mount Prospect, started playing soccer when she was just 5-years old. 

"The reason I started is because I wanted to be like my brother. I wanted to copy and be like him. When I started walking, my dad put a soccer ball at my feet and it started then," she said.

Four young women from the Chicago suburbs are heading to the World Cup of Youth Soccer.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Mekky joins her teammates Hannah Gryzik, 15, Elk Grove Village, Holly Deutsch, 15 and Katie Morgan, 15 both of Deerfield in traveling to Sweden for the international tournament.

"It's probably one of the hardest tryouts I've ever done," Morgan said. "I didn't think I was going to make it. Every day I was running, working out and to find out that I made the team and accomplished what I worked for put me in tears."  

Hannah Gryzik said it means the world to her to get chosen.

"It's a crazy experience to be able to go to a different country. It's a great feeling," Gryzik said.

Four young women from the Chicago suburbs are heading to the World Cup of Youth Soccer.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

"Knowing that I was able to make a national team that is traveling across the ocean to a different country to play in this amazing tournament is insane. I was picked to do that?" said Mekky, shaking her head in disbelief. 

Mekky's father Sam said he's incredibly proud of his daughter and the whole team.

"These girls sacrifice a lot. They have no social life, but Hannah wants this. She loves it," he said. "When we got the call she made this time, it was so exciting. We can't wait." 

Four young women from the Chicago suburbs are heading to the World Cup of Youth Soccer.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Team USA’s World Cup victory on Sunday has put women's soccer on the map, something Bowers said can only help the sport and young women who participate.

"All these kids are watching it. They love it. They enjoy watching women on the biggest stage and it's going to keep growing," Bowers said.

Holly Deutsch said all the players are people "we look up to. It's really important for women like us." 

Hannah Gryzik agreed.

"These women so inspire me. Finally, I feel they are getting the recognition they deserve," she said.

Four young women from the Chicago suburbs are heading to the World Cup of Youth Soccer.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

"It's so incredible to think about them especially as role models. Each player has had their own individual journey and for us, to look at those stories, and to be able to relate to them is extraordinary," Morgan said. 

Hannah Mekky said people tend to be blinded by men's sports. 

"With the women winning, it shows that women can do what everyone else is doing and it shows that there is actually an importance to us and we can do the same," she said. 

Four young women from the Chicago suburbs are heading to the World Cup of Youth Soccer.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Gothia Cup is the world’s largest and most international youth football tournament. Each year, around 1,700 teams from 80 nations take part and they play 4,500 games on 110 fields.  

"Making the team and getting selected, these girls are really, really pushing and they want to play college ball and we've got the tools to make that happen. I don't know many kids who work as hard as these kids," Bowers said.

Gothia Cup was first held in 1975. Through the years, almost a million players from a total of 146 countries have participated in the tournament. 

"There's nothing better than watching kids love a sport you love and show so much passion for it. It's fun watching them watch grow up," Bowers said.