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Morgan Reid: Crossover

U.S. U-17 Women's National Team defender Morgan Reid has plenty of game on the court and the field, but she has had to adapt to a different role when swapping her high top sneakers for Nike cleats.

Morgan Reid loves having the basketball in her hands. She is all swagger as the starting point guard for the 1,200-student Cardinal Gibbons High School Crusaders in Raleigh, N.C., a position she’s held since the very beginning of her freshman year. With her ponytail flying, she’s a confluence of starts and stops, fearless drives to the basket, superior court vision, a sweet stroke from long range and a crossover that has broken more than a few ankles. She dictates the tempo of the game and calls the plays on the court.

On the soccer field, she’s all about defense. An outside back for her club and country, she’s a rough-and-tumble tackler who refuses to be beaten one-on-one.

Her skill set in the two sports is different and so is her role. She’s used to running the show for her high school hoops team and her AAU team (where she played for one of the top squads in the country). For the USA, however, she’s been primarily a reserve, and it’s something she’s had to learn to adjust to in her young national team career.

“It really is humbling to watch your teammates win a CONCACAF championship game and not play a minute, whereas in basketball I’m the player with the ball in her hands with the last shot on the line,” said Reid, who also plays practically every minute for her club soccer team – the CASL Chelsea Ladies - back in North Carolina. “It is tough to feel like you’re not contributing to your team, but after a while you realize that you can contribute in different ways.”

She understands even if she’s not running the show, she can show great leadership by embracing her role to the fullest.

“Everyone has a role on each team you play for, and in the end, you want to do what’s right for the team,” she said. “On some teams, that might be handling the ball on every possession and scoring a bunch of the points, and on another that might be being a supportive teammate and being ready to step up when you are called on. The coach knows what he’s doing in all situations, and you have to respect that and do what is asked of you.”

Reid was called upon in the USA’s second match of the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Cup against Gambia, playing the entire 90 minutes at right back. She was thrilled to get some World Cup action, which whet her appetite to keep improving her soccer game even more. But like most teenagers, she wants to do it all.

“I just love playing both sports,” said Reid. “Soccer is a game where you need all eleven players. Basketball is of course a team game as well, but you can also make a big difference individually. In soccer, one player doesn’t usually take over a game, but in basketball, you can score 12 points in a row and change the momentum of the game by yourself.”

Reid says another positive aspect of being a two-sport athlete is one definitely helps the other. Just call it some serious cross-training.

“I think soccer and basketball have a lot to do with each other,” said Reid. “One might be more hand-eye and the other foot-eye, but seeing things on the basketball court helps you see things in soccer as well and vice-versa. The sports are different but the pressures are similar. If we’re down by two with 10 seconds left, and I have the ball, that puts me in these intense situations. And you are always in intense situations with the national team. That experience dealing with pressure helps a lot with both sports. And if you can run for 90 minutes in soccer, the fitness for a basketball game is not that hard.”

Morgan will play soccer at Duke in the fall of 2014, but of course there is a part of her that would love to play basketball as well. Her mom, Cheryl, was a star point guard at Ohio State who held several records and can still light it up from outside the arc.

Whether Reid does play two sports will be up to both of the college coaches and how she progresses as a point guard, but truth be told, she’s not sure she can balance two sports plus the academics of a school like Duke.

“I’ve loved Duke from the time we moved to North Carolina,” said Reid. “Cameron Indoor Arena is just amazing. There is a great atmosphere there and I got to play on that court when I went to the Duke Basketball recruit camp. It would be a dream to play there, but a girl only has so much time in a day.”

Basketball and the U.S. Women’s National Teams have a long-standing history. Of course, team captain Christie Rampone was a star point guard in high school, scoring more than 2,000 points, and started for the Division I Monmouth hoops team. Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, Lauren Cheney, Amy LePeilbet, Shannon Boxx and Heather O’Reilly – to name a few -- all played high school hoops with some success.

For now, as one of the few high school juniors on the U.S. team, Reid will just focus on her two remaining years of high school and continue to work as hard as she can on the court and the field. Then see where life takes her. She knows it’s good to have options, and as long as she’s having fun playing both sports, she’s happy

This year Reid nailed the winning penalty kick in the shootout to give her club its second consecutive Elite Clubs National League title. Sounds like an athlete you want with the ball in her hands, or at her feet, with the game on the line.

“It’s sort of the question of my life,” said Reid. “People ask me, ‘are you going to play soccer and basketball?’ In different seasons I say different things, but I’m only seventeen, so who knows? Right now, I just feel really fortunate to be able to play two awesome sports and have two groups of great teammates I love.”