The rapid rise of the Richmond Kickers’ Katie Cousins
By Jimmy LaRoue
Katie Cousins has made a rapid rise through the ranks of girls’ youth soccer, to the point where she has been named to the roster for the U.S. Under-20 women’s national team’s trip to the 12 Nations Tournament from Mar. 1-12 in La Manga, Spain.
But that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s seen the 16-year old Cousins play.
“We are extremely proud of Katie’s rapid rise through the ranks of the national team youth program, and believe she will be a key contributor in Spain,” said her Richmond Kickers U-17 Girls Elite coach Rob Ukrop, in a statement following her being named to the U-20 team. “As talented as Katie is on the soccer field, she shines brighter off the field with her humble approach to the game and her warm interaction with her teammates and younger players within our club.”
It seems like only yesterday Cousins, a sophomore at Jefferson Forest High School in Lynchburg, Va., was playing for her club team, Central Virginia United, in Lynchburg and getting a look in a U.S. Under-14 girls’ national development program ID camp before making the full time move to the Richmond Kickers Elite and getting called back into various national team camps and playing in the Virginia Olympic Development Program.
The latest was earlier this year for the Under-18 camp. At the end of that camp, Cousins, a midfielder who has already committed to play college soccer at Tennessee with former Maryland coach Brian Pensky at the helm, was invited to train with the Under-20s, which obviously paid off, because this week, she learned she’d be among the 18 players going to La Manga with new coach Michelle French.
While this post is mostly about her rise, let’s not forget the other girls from the DMV that are also on this roster – goalkeeper Morgan Stearns with McLean Youth Soccer, midfielder Andi Sullivan with Bethesda SC, midfielder Ashley Meier from Virginia Tech and forward Makenzy Doniak at the University of Virginia.
I profiled Cousins for Soccerwire.com last year. Ukrop said at the time that “she’s the kind of player that the women’s national team needs in their program.”
Having seen her play and train on multiple occasions, it’s easy to see the poise, skill and control she brings to the game.
The Kickers’ U-17 Elite team she’s on is ranked fifth nationally according to GotSoccer.com, second in Virginia and third in Region 1. In recent months, the U-17 Elite team finished as champions of their brackets in the Disney Soccer Showcase, the Bethesda Thanksgiving Tournament and the 2012 WAGS Tournament. They’ll also be at the Jefferson Cup from Mar. 15-17 playing in the Girls U-17 Elite bracket. Cousins will have returned from La Manga by then.
Even with all the soccer accolades, she still finds time to play varsity basketball at Jefferson Forest, helping lead her team into the region playoffs.
Here’s what her basketball coach, Paul Redgate, told the Lynchburg News-Advance after a recent game: ““I can’t think of anything better than having a player like Katie Cousins. When Amherst was coming back and we needed a play, she stepped up.”
Her Jefferson Forest team was eliminated from the Region III, Div. 4 quarterfinals in a tough 50-48 loss to Staunton River.
At the tournament in La Manga, the U.S. will play Norway (Mar. 7), Germany (Mar. 9) and Sweden (Mar. 11) in group play. The other countries traveling to La Manga are Iceland, the Netherlands, Scotland, England, Italy, France, Denmark and Wales.
Players born on or after January 1, 1994, are age-eligible for the 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, to be held in Canada. This eighteen-player roster is made up of seven players born in 1994, 10 players born in 1995 and one, Cousins, born in 1996.
“Molly and I are very proud of Katie’s drive and work ethic,” said her father, Luther Cousins in a news release. “She is thrilled to be playing with the older squad and is really excited for the opportunity to represent the United States internationally. We are grateful to her coach, Rob Ukrop, and the Kickers organization for the exceptional experience they’ve provided to aid in her development as a player and a young lady.”
And yet, with all of this, Cousins is just a sophomore in high school, deserving of the accolades yet humble enough to handle them.
U.S. U-20 WNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire South; Kennesaw, Ga.) Morgan Stearns (McLean Youth Soccer; San Antonio, Texas)
DEFENDERS (6): Morgan Andrews (FC Stars of Mass.; Milford, N.H.), Mandy Freeman (Orlando City; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Hanna Gardner (UNC, Chapel Hill, N.C.), Zoey Goralski (Team Chicago; Naperville, Ill.), Katie Naughton (Notre Dame; Arlington Heights, Ill.), Cari Roccaro (Notre Dame; East Islip, N.Y.)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Katie Cousins (Richmond Kickers; Forest, Va.), Isabel Farrell (Washington; Bellevue, Wash.), Rose Lavelle (Cincinnati United; Cincinnati United), Ashley Meier (Virginia Tech; Blacksburg, Va.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.)
FORWARDS (5): Makenzy Doniak (Virginia; Chino Hills, Calif.), Lindsey Horan (Paris Saint-Germain, Golden, Colo.), Summer Green (UNC; Milford, Mich.), Darian Jenkins (Sparta; Riverton, Utah), Amber Munerlyn (So Cal Blues; Corona, Calif.)