The U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team plays its first international matches of the year on Sunday (Feb. 27 at 5 p.m.) and Wednesday (March 2 at 11 a.m.) against Germany’s U-17s at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. As the team gets ready for yet another clash of the two women’s world powers, this time on the youth level, ussoccer.com sat down with one of the team’s how shall we say -- "vocal leaders" -- to find out what makes her tick. We found out that it just might be Raisenettes.
Defender Carolyn Blank is a lot like most 16-year-olds playing in the U.S. Women’s National team programs. She’s looking forward to playing college soccer (but is currently very confused about which college to choose), aspires to one day play for the full national team and maybe even play professionally if a pro league comes back in some form.
But there is one thing that makes her stand out from the rest of her teammates on the U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team: Even among a group of self-admitted goofballs, Blank just might be the goofiest.
"We’re all pretty loud, but maybe I am the loudest," said Blank, whose mop of curly hair is usually positioned in a messy bun right on top of her head. "I think we compliment each other pretty well, but I admit, I’m an outgoing girl."
Maybe it’s because she’s from New Jersey, maybe it’s because her mom has a great sense of humor ("my mom almost named me ‘Fillinda.’ As in Fillinda Blank. Get it?") or maybe it’s just that she’s loving life as one of the top youth players in the country and looking forward to once again representing her country against one of the top teams in the world.
Last year, she traveled to both Ireland and Brazil with the U.S. U-16s, getting an education about the world and soccer that you could never learn in a classroom.
"Ireland was awesome because we got to play England, Scotland and Ireland," said Blank, who is in her third year with the U.S. Women’s National Team programs after playing two years with the U.S. 16s and also attending U-14 Developmental Camp. "It was just really cool being on my first international trip. It was tight. After the games a whole bunch of people came up and asked us for our autographs! They thought we were big time. It was just awesome to see how much they respected the sport."
Blank did well enough last year to get called to both U-17 training camps this year and is once again enjoying the experiences.
"I just love this team," she said, while having no problem admitting that most of the team can quote every line from the indie hit movie Napoleon Dynamite. "I might be closer to these players than anyone. I can just be stupid and everyone will laugh. It’s like having 22 best friends. You can talk for hours about anything and just have fun, no matter how random we are. I love them all."
Besides hanging out with her teammates, chatting on her computer and playing soccer, Blank admits that her most favorite thing to do just might be eating.
She does not hesitate when listing some of her favorites.
"Mac and Cheese, cotton candy, Baked Ziti and anything at Applebee’s," said Blank. "I also love Raisenettes. Actually, that’s one of the main reasons I go to the movies, to get Raisenettes and popcorn. I get them every time I got to the movies. I can’t drink soda anymore, though. I gave it up for Lent. Well, I actually started not drinking soda for New Year’s and that lasted about a month. But I went to the dentist and didn’t have any cavities so I think cutting back on the soda is good for my teeth."
Blank is very much looking forward to the matches against Germany and says that the team is excited to test themselves against a country which won the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship back in November. She is also inspired be seeing the success of Amy Rodriguez, just a year older than her, who recently got called into the full Women’s National Team for the Algarve Cup in Portugal.
"Two years ago I played with A-Rod on the U-16s," said Blank. "I hated playing against her. She’s amazing and just so quick. But all the power to her, that’s just so cool. I’m jealous. She’s so nice too. Just a genuinely nice girl."
Blank is a big fan of the U.S. Women’s National Team, and especially her "Jersey sister" Heather O’Reilly, but recently was a miffed when she couldn’t find a 2005 U.S. WNT Calendar. [Ed. Note: She could have found one here: ussoccerstore.com]
"I went with ‘Disney’s Princesses’ calendar instead," she said. "It’s got Jasmine from Aladdin, Snow White and Belle from Beauty and Beast. It’s almost as good. I love the Disney Channel. I watch it all the time."
A fairytale for Blank would include someday representing the USA at the senior level, but for now, she’ll focus on the German U-17s.
"I know we’re all young and we like to goof around, but I think we all appreciate the privilege of playing for the U.S., especially against a team like Germany," Blank added. "We can’t wait to get out there and show our stuff."