Hometown: Trumbell, Conn.
College: Arizona State
Every few days a member of the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team will be the focus of a Question and Answer session from Canada, where the young Americans are playing in the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship. The USA opens the first-ever world championship for youth women against England on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT. Fans can follow the action from Centennial Stadium in Victoria, B.C., live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, present by Philips Electronics. Today Manya Makoski shares her views on going away to college, playing in her first world championship and things NOT to do in Powder Puff football.
ussoccer.com: How has your stay in Canada been so far?
Makoski: "We've only been a few days, but it's been pretty eventful. We went on a failed whale-watching expedition, and although we didn't see any Orcas, I did get to sit in the very front seat of the Zodiac boat, which the guide said was where you got the roughest ride because you hit the waves first. It was like a roller-coaster on water."
ussoccer.com: You are from Connecticut, and even though you were three years old when another Connecticut native Kristine Lilly first played for the national team, have you followed her career?
Makoski: "Ever since I started playing soccer, I've known about her, but the first time I ever saw her in person was a strange day. It was Kristine Lilly Day in her hometown of Wilton and my high school, the mighty Trumbull Golden Eagles, just happened to be playing Wilton on the day they dedicated the high school field in her name. We got to Wilton and there was a huge crowd and a ceremony as they unveiled her name on the scoreboard. My high school team hadn't lost a match in a long time, but for some reason, we just couldn't score that day. They scored a goal off a messy scramble in front of the net and we lost, 1-0. I guess the Lilly magic was going for Wilton that day."
ussoccer.com: You chose to go all the way across the country to attend college at Arizona State. How come you chose to make the cross-country trek?
Makoski: "I needed something different for college. I've lived in Connecticut all my life and I really don't like cold weather. They have great facilities at ASU, it's an up-and-coming program and I really like the coach, Ray Leone. I really got along well with the girls on the team and I'm going to live with my buddy Brittany Cooper, who was in the U-19 pool with us."
ussoccer.com: When did you first believe you might have a chance to play in a World Championship?
Makoski: "I guess it was after my first event with the team last summer. I got back from Europe and I realized that I could compete at this level. That was when I really started to focus and try to earn a place on the World Championship roster."
ussoccer.com: Are you nervous?
Makoski: "Yeah, I guess I am. I always get nervous before big games, but it's a good nervous. It helps me focus and keeps me on track."
ussoccer.com: We heard you were an All-Pro in Powder Puff Football at your high school - True or False?
Makoski: "Well, there's some true and some false in that. This past year as a senior, I took a handoff on the first play of the game and ran all the way down the field for a touchdown and then celebrated with back-flip. I scored another touchdown off a run a bit later, but then something unfortunate happened. I clothes-lined this girl as she was running full speed down the sidelines and pretty much leveled her. People said her feet flew above her head and the crowd went crazy. Then they threw me out of the game. I might be the only girl in Connecticut history to get ejected from a Powder Puff football game. The girl didn't go to school the next day."
ussoccer.com: You've battled some injuries in the past year. Is everything working and ready to go?
Makoski: "I'm 100%. It was frustrating there for a bit 'cause I had to wear a huge knee brace, but I threw that thing away and besides a few scrapes and bruises that I get every time I play, it's all systems go."
ussoccer.com: What do you think of the English team, your first opponent?
Makoski: "We really don't know much about them, but that's okay because we respect all of our opponents the same. We know they want to win as much as us and that it will be a battle, especially because both teams will have a bit of nerves in the first game."
Manya Makoski has played 10 times for the U.S. Under-19s and has scored one goal, that against Sweden on the team's recent European tour. She will be a freshman at Arizona State after the tournament. She loves hummus, Eminem and would be a pro snowboarder if it wasn't for soccer. Like another great player from Connecticut, Kristine Lilly, she will wear number 13 for the USA in the World Championship.