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Casey Short with the U-16 GNT

Casey Short and the U.S. Under-16 Girl’s National Team will play three matches in the Under-18 age bracket at the Women’s Nike Friendlies, taking on Slammers FC, the U.S. U-17s and Real Colorado. She tells why her nickname may soon be obsolete, kind of.

If you’ve seen the U.S. U-15 or U-16 Girls’ National Teams play over the past two years, one player would have stood out. It’s not because she’s particularly tall or loud. In fact, she’s slim and quiet, but she’s constantly moving and incredibly graceful with the ball at her feet – it seems to be stuck there with some sort of adhesive -- as she glides around the field in a Julie Foudy-esque sort of way.

When her teammates call for the ball, they scream “Shorty! Shorty!” It’s true that the slithering midfielder/forward is not tall, but even so, you might think it’s a bit mean to call one of your teammates “Shorty.”

Not if her name is Casey Short.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” said Short, who hails from Naperville, Ill., where she plays for the Chicago Eclipse. “I guess it’s kind of a natural nickname, and I’ve actually grown to like it. It could be worse.”

Soon, the nickname may be only half correct. Short only recently reached 5-foot-4, but much to her relief, her doctor says she is still growing. Both her parents are 5-8, and she hopes to get to at least 5-6.

But it’s not her height that has drawn interest from more than two dozen universities; it’s her incredible comfort level with the ball and her ability to run at players on the dribble.

She credits her skills to her soccer upbringing with Team Chicago Pizazz (which recently merged with the Eclipse) and coach Hudson Fortune, who ran skills camps at which Short has been a regular since the age of eight.

She got thousands of touches on the ball, juggling, dribbling and working on ball striking and volleys. All that work has paid off as she has been a regular with the U.S. U-15s and U-16s over the past two years.

“Casey is lightning quick, she likes to go at people and penetrate individually,” said U.S. U-16 Girl’s National Team head coach Kazbek Tambi. “She’s also versatile, can play several different positions, has loads of energy and can go for 90 minutes without slowing down. She’s been a pleasant person to be around on top of her soccer talents.”

It has been a great period of growth for her – and not just height-wise. Her tactical understanding of the game has improved, as has her realization that there are some great athletes playing soccer in the United States.

“Speed of play is the number one thing that is different,” she said about coming into National Team camps. “It’s just so much faster that it forces you to think quicker. I’ve really enjoyed focusing on connecting and playing fast and learning much more about the tactical part of the game.”

Short has played attacking midfielder for her club and country but will probably see more time at forward for the U.S. U-16s at the Women’s Nike Friendlies. That’s just fine for a player who lists her favorite thing about soccer as “scoring goals.”

Like almost all youth National Team players, Short has aspirations to someday play for the senior National Team, but she knows the fulfillment of that dream is far down the road. For now, she will concentrate on the U.S. U-16s, her club, and choosing a college.

That’s proving to be a tough enough challenge for the high school junior, who has “narrowed” her list down to 10-15 schools and is “concentrating” on colleges in the Midwest, West Coast, East Coast and Southwest.

“It’s a hard process,” said Short of her college decision. “Hopefully, I can start figuring out the place that is best for me. I need to start putting together a final list.”

This week, she will focus on playing with her teammates at the Women’s Nike Friendlies, a tournament in which they will be competing against girls two years older in the Under-18 bracket.

“I loved getting to know [my teammates], and I love seeing them at tournaments, but when we come into the National Team camps, it’s an amazing atmosphere. They are a great bunch of girls,” said Short. “We went to Holland, which was a really fun trip. We had some really good matches over there, and just being able to play with the best players is an honor. It’s been so cool to be able to travel with the National Team and to be able to play at a beautiful facility like The Home Depot Center.”

Short lists two of her favorite players as U.S. Women’s National Team forwards Abby Wambach and Natasha Kai. As the U.S. women will be training right next to the U.S. Youth National Teams this week in advance of their Oct. 1 meeting with Chinese Taipei at The Home Depot Center (tickets), it is likely that Short will get to meet a few of her heroes.

While she still has a ways to grow to look the 5-foot-11 Wambach in the eye, if she does get to meet Wambach, how will she introduce herself to the USA’s star striker?

“I’ll probably be too nervous to say much,” said Short. “But she can call me Shorty anytime.”

- 2006 Women's Nike Friendlies Home -