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Soccer commit Alyssa Thompson wins top high school award

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Class of 2023 women’s soccer commit Alyssa Thompson was honored this week as the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year. With this honor, Thompson became only the second ever sophomore to win this award. Other past recipients include Mallory Pugh, Heather O’Reilly, Lauren Holiday and countless others. Thompson led her high school team to a perfect 18-0 record this season, racking up a total of 48 goals and 14 assists. The Daily’s Jenna Ruzekowicz sat down with Thompson right after the news broke to discuss the award and her future on and off the field. 

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Congratulations on winning the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year award. With all the journalistic hype that you’re getting from this amazing honor, I wanted to ask, what do you personally think is your strongest attribute within the game and what differentiates you from other players on the field?

Alyssa Thompson (AT): Thank you. I think it’s just my ability to read the game. And my speed of play, I feel like that really helps in the games, and just for scoring opportunities, as well.

TSD: Why did you choose Stanford? Obviously it is still early and you’re verbally committed as a sophomore, but why Stanford, and what drove you to ultimately commit so early to being on The Farm?

AT: Well, not only do they have an amazing soccer program and coaching staff and facilities, but their academics are insane. I feel like if you have a chance to go to Stanford, how can you turn that down? A degree from Stanford can help you with so many things. And not only do I want to be a great soccer player, but I also want to have something for after soccer because you can’t do that for the rest of your life. Stanford will give me an amazing education. My parents always wanted us to push for academics and Stanford gives a balance of both athletics and academics. Also, the location is amazing. Palo Alto is so pretty.

TSD: Was Stanford then always the dream? How soon did you know that Stanford was the ultimate goal? 

AT: Stanford has always been the dream since fifth grade. We would go to their little summer camps, the sleepover ones. The coaching staff is amazing. [Head coach] Paul [Ratcliffe] is so calm and easy to talk to. Their energy when I came was really amazing. 

TSD: You spoke on this a little bit, that one of the main driving forces of why you wanted to be at Stanford was the degree and your life after soccer. What are your goals within the sport long term?

AT: Long term goal is to be a starter on the senior national team. Definitely to win a World Cup or Olympics — that would be amazing. And not just be on the senior team, but be a key player to their team.

TSD: Who has been your role model within the sport and what do you think you’ve gained from watching them? 

AT: A big role model is Catarina Macario. She finished her years at Stanford, she went to Lyon to play and now she’s on the senior national team fighting for a spot. Her ability to read the game, her technical ability, her versatility and speed. She’s a well rounded player, and arguably one of the best right now, so I feel like she inspired me a lot to do better in my game. 

TSD: Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year. What does that award mean to you and how do you think it’s going to launch your soccer career?

AT: This means so much to me. So many amazing names are on the plaque. But I wouldn’t have gotten this award without my sister. She helped me so much. Also my teammates, they helped within the game. They made through balls and assists and anything that could help me score. They pushed me to be better as a player. Also my coaches really helped me throughout the season to enhance my game. In the long run I hope to be like those players listed on the plaque of this very prestigious award. But this is not the end for me. 

This transcript has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

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Jenna Ruzekowicz is a staff writer in the sports section. She is a sophomore from Syracuse, New York majoring in Computer Science. Her teams include: Portland Thorns, Arsenal and Man City. Contact her at jruzekowicz 'at' stanforddaily.com.