Freeport’s Camryn Woods values experience with U.S. ODP national team

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Monday, May 6, 2024 | 12:31 PM


Camryn Woods found herself among some select soccer company.

The Freeport freshman took her game international earlier this month as a member of a U.S. Olympic Development Program U15 national team that played three games in Costa Rica.

“It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,” Woods said.

Her journey to the ODP national team started last summer with competition at the state level. More than 2,500 girls across the country started the process and vied for the final 18 spots.

She advanced to a regional camp in Connecticut and finally a showcase in Florida at the end of January when the team was selected.

She was a member of an East regional team that played three other regional teams. Within those games, scouts and coaches evaluated each player to see who would be selected to head to Costa Rica.

“After Florida, I waited to get an email that would let me know if I made the team,” Woods said.

“It was an amazing feeling to be selected and know I was one of a few out of 2,500 to have this opportunity.”

The team members met in Costa Rica for a couple of days of training before beginning play against a Costa Rican youth national team and two Costa Rican women’s professional teams.

Woods, who is known for her speed and goal-scoring prowess in her club and high school games, played center back in the tournament.

“Just being able to grow and get a different perspective on the field in a different position helped me grow so much. It allowed me to see the game differently, and I feel I am now an even more versatile player,” Woods said.

“It was tough at times because I always want to go, go go. But at defensive back, it’s more defensive minded. I did have to hold myself back at times. But it was somewhat of an attacking center back, so I was delivering longer balls to start the attack.”

Woods helped her team score a win over the youth national team before a pair of tough 2-1 losses to the pro teams.

“It was their best professional teams, so we were playing 25- to 30-year olds with years more experience than we had,” Woods said.

“They had a very different playing style, so it was challenging but fun to be able to play against that and adjust. We then were able to settle in, and we played really well against them. We could’ve won both of them. We missed some easy (scoring) opportunities. I feel we outplayed each of them. It helped me see where my game is going to need to be when I get older. I learned so much.”

It wasn’t all about the soccer for Woods and her fellow team members as they got in plenty of sightseeing and other experiences during the week.

“They took us zip-lining, white water rafting, to some of their best-known restaurants, cultures, shows,” Woods said.

“We had the best tour guides, so we got the best experience. We toured the capital, San Jose, and there were so many great things to see. Everyone there was so upbeat, happy and alive, and open to meeting new people.”

Woods said sharing the trip with fellow Century United club teammate Ava Hajnosz, a freshman at Peters Township, only added to the meaningful experience.

“We got to room together,” Woods said. “It was really nice.”

Woods said she just met three-quarters of the team as they gathered in Costa Rica, but bonds quickly formed on and off the pitch.

“We had Zoom meetings about the trip and how it was going to go, but we didn’t meet face-to-face until we were there,” Woods said.

“At practice, we couldn’t tell fully how much we were clicking, but we got to the games, and it was impressive to see how we played, making runs, making passes and communicating. It looked like we had all played together for years.”

Woods joined the ODP three seasons ago with the hopes of adding to a soccer career rife with accomplishment and potential.

“I’ve grown so much with the program,” Woods said.

“I just started it as a fun thing to do, and it has been such a motivation. The first two years, I didn’t make the national team. Even last year, I didn’t make it to the regional team. It’s been a motivation for me to get better. This has been a goal of mine to make this national team. I’ve worked hard and grown through so many different coaches at every level. You learn so much from each one of them.”

There was no rest for Woods upon her return to the states from Costa Rica. The next day, April 6, she was in Maryland for two games with Century United.

Last weekend, she was in Philadelphia for a pair of games. She has been a part of recent tournaments in Delaware and North Carolina.

Woods’ international opportunity came on the heels of a standout first season for the Freeport girls team.

She scored both goals in a WPIAL playoff win over Beaver and finished the season with 31 goals before earning All-WPIAL honors.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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