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Center Circle Extra: Cat Reddick's Busy Summer 'Vacation'

U.S. defender Cat Reddick has been around the world and back, literally, in one of the most exciting summers of her life.  It could get even more exciting should she make the USA’s 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team.

The last three months of Cat Reddick’s soccer life have been a whirlwind.  But that’s what happens when you are one of the brightest young stars in American women’s soccer and are doing double duty for the U.S. Under-21 and full National Teams.

In May, Reddick spent a week in her hometown of Birmingham, Ala., where the USA played England at the famed Legion Field. She was treated to a “hometown hero” media-frenzy the likes of which are usually afford only to Mia Hamm. Reddick called playing for her country in front of her friends and family “one of the best experiences of my life.”

After a last sip of sweet tea at Milo’s, a bite of Johnny Ray’s famous lemon pie, and hugs for her mom, dad and sister, Reddick was off to Brazil the evening after she played 90 minutes in the 6-0 win over England. She played four matches with the U-21s in the heat and humidity of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and then it was back to B-Ham for two days, then to Chapel Hill to move into a temporary apartment as the house she shares with seven other UNC women was being renovated.

After doing some laundry, she headed to Salt Lake City for a week, playing 90 minutes vs. Ireland in the USA’s 5-0 win, then came back to Chapel Hill for five days (yes, a whole five days!) before traveling to California for 10 days of training with the U-21s in their pre-Nordic Cup camp. Then it was back to Birmingham for a few days, then to Chapel Hill to celebrate July 4 with her friends, and then it was off to New Orleans for a week for the USA’s match against Brazil.  She once again played 90 minutes in the USA’s 1-0 victory in the sweltering Bayou heat, then the next morning, left for New Jersey for two days of training with the U-21s before hopping across the Atlantic Ocean for the Nordic Cup in Denmark. She played all but a half in the USA’s Nordic Cup title run that culminated in a 2-1 win over Sweden in the championship game. Reddick assisted on the winning goal from a free kick.

“I’m tired,” said Reddick, and rightly so, but her summer is not done.  On August 5 she leaves for England with the Tar Heels on a pre-season tour, and then she will travel back to California for the USA’s next camp on Aug. 20 in San Diego in hopes of earning a spot on the 2003 Women’s World Cup Team.

“It’s been a crazy summer, but it’s been a lot of fun,” said Reddick. “I’ve basically been living out of a bag since school ended. It’s basically been hotel to hotel, then staying with friends in Chapel Hill and getting home for a few days between national team trips. But this is the life you live when you are a soccer player and training to be the best you can be.”

The transition from the U-21 side to the full national team is not the easiest for a young player, with a different speed of play, a different level of professionalism and different stakes, but Reddick says she enjoys both environments.

“It’s two different worlds going from the full team and being a younger player eager to learn as much as you can from the veteran players to the U-21s, where I’m more of a leader,” said Reddick. “Hopefully I set a good example in my training ethic and play for the younger players on that team.”

Reddick has been a mainstay with the U-21s, a constant in a string of success on European soil that has produced five consecutive Nordic Cup championships, the last four with Reddick as a starter.

“It’s been great to go to the Nordic Cup four different years, in four different countries, with four different teams and three different coaches and win each time. I learned something new and different each year and it’s great to go over to Europe and be able to have success.”

Reddick’s next goal is a coveted spot on the 2003 Women’s World Cup roster.  At 21-years-old and with 34 full national team caps, 20 international games at the U-21 level and 18 caps for the U.S. Under-18 National Team, as well as three college season for UNC, Reddick is as experienced as any young player in the United States. But she will not breath easy until she sees her name on that Women’s World Cup roster, and even then, she knows there is still much work to be done.

“I can’t control who makes the 20-player roster, all I can do is control my own performance so I focus on that,” said Reddick. “Obviously, it would be a dream come true to make the World Cup team and play in my own country. But I know that even if I make the team, the job is not even close to being done. I want to still earn a starting spot, and of course, it will be one of the most difficult challenges ever for the USA to win this World Cup, but those are my goals and I will do everything in my power to reach them.”

Should she make the FIFA Women’s World Cup roster, Reddick would miss about a month and a half of her college season, returning for the home stretch and the ACC and NCAA tournaments of her senior year.

“This crazy summer has been one of my favorites because of all the different experiences,” said Reddick. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  The people I’ve hung out with, the places I’ve seen and the amount of great soccer I’ve gotten to play has been wonderful. I’m doing just want I want to do.”