Georgia Allen’s goals lie abroad, but a piece of her remains home
Alexandra Moreo | Photo Editor
UPDATED: Sept. 6, 2017 at 5:27 p.m.
Georgia Allen stood in the middle of the field and waved. She watched as her parents got into their car and circled the Arsenal Training Centre toward the exit. It finally hit her.
“Wow, I’m really doing this,” she thought.
At the age of 13, Allen was already living one of her earliest childhood dreams. Little did she know, as her parents drove away in their Volkswagen Golf or Navarra Truck each passing day, that her dreams would take her much further than these 70 miles from her childhood home.
Allen, a new arrival at Syracuse (4-1-1) as a transfer from East Tennessee State, looks to find her home at SU after years of searching for the best place to help her achieve her goals. Her journey has brought her to multiple countries across Europe, two schools in two different states in the United States and many separate practice facilities. But back home, where she returns every few weeks to train with the English national team, things remain steady.
“I’ve lived in England my entire life,” Allen said. “But I’m always looking for my next challenge.”
Allen envisioned this soccer future long ago. At the age of 3, she kicked her first soccer ball. Her family remembered that, seemingly every morning after, she would wake up and immediately dress up in full soccer gear. Liz Wesley, her mother, said a ball was always being kicked around the house or in their large garden overlooked by a conservatory. The more her parents watched from above the garden, the more soccer seemed less a passion and more an obsession.
When she was 5 years old, Allen wrote that she wanted to play for the Arsenal Women Football Club and represent her country in international play. She often wrote entries in her diary, but playing for Arsenal was one of the biggest dreams Allen put to paper. Her father had grown up a fan.
Eight years later, the club was holding tryouts in London, about 70 miles from her house, so Wesley drove Allen to the practice facility. Allen thought her chances of making the team weren’t good.
But the next day, she got a call back to try out again. Then again and again. The miles racked up on her parent’s car, until one day, she got the call for good.
“Completely worth it,” Allen said. “I couldn’t wait to get started, it was pretty amazing.”
How hard her daughter works, Wesley said, sometimes makes things tough for her. The game is everything to Allen, almost “painfully everything,” and she said life might be “simpler” if it wasn’t so.
“(Wherever) she’s played over the past few years,” Wesley said, “it’s meant something. You got to do well. The pressure’s on. It’s been a very long time since she’s played for fun.”
When Allen left home at 18 for ETSU, her parents stayed up into dawn, watching live stats of her games in bed. The postgame WhatsApp phone conversations had them up until after 3 a.m. on the latest nights.
Leaving ETSU, Wesley said, was a career move. She had her eyes on the Atlantic Coast Conference for the opportunity to play at the highest level of collegiate soccer. Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was impressed with what he saw when his USA team played Allen’s England team.
“I knew that she could play here,” Wheddon said. “When she became available, it was a no-brainer.”
After Allen requested a release from ETSU, Wheddon started making calls. Allen said that she did get “a few” offers, but as soon as Syracuse got in touch she knew it was the place she wanted to be. She’s always been adventurous, like jumping out of an airplane or doing charity work in Kenya.
“I have this thing about me, not wanting to stand still, always keep moving,” Allen said, laughing. “(It’s) about getting out of my comfort zone.”
Allen still keeps what she calls a “review book” with her at all times. In it, she takes notes on opponents, constructively criticizes herself and notes future goals.
Her parents remember the diary she kept when she was young. To this day, she still writes things down. 3500 miles from the redbrick house with a large garden, she still carries that piece of childhood with her.
“It’s a gentle reminder each day,” she said.
CLARIFICATION: In a previous version of this post, Liz Wesley’s comments about Georgia Allen’s work ethic lacked proper context. Wesley said the hard work Allen puts in sometimes makes things tough for her.
Published on September 5, 2017 at 10:13 pm
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