Earning a spot on the Olympic team was only one step on the long ladder for Allie Long.
The former Northport H.S. standout doesn’t want to be just a participant in the Rio Olympics. She wants to celebrate winning the women’s soccer tournament with her U.S. teammates at Maracana Stadium come Aug. 19.
“I’m prepared to do whatever the team needs me to do in order to be standing up on the podium with the gold medal around all of our necks,” Long recently said.
She just might have to do that.
The 28-year-old Long’s versatility was a big reason coach Jill Ellis selected her to the 18-player roster. With five less players to use than in last year’s Women’s World Cup, Ellis must make the most of her players’ abilities. In several friendlies this year, Long demonstrated she could play attacking and defensive midfield with the same aplomb.
When Ellis took over the team in 2014, Long did not make the grade at training camp.
“I think not making it was potentially the bump she needed,” she said. “Now, she’s very versatile, her ball winning, her distribution. She’s keeping her game simple.
“She doesn’t get rattled at all and she’s been productive for us. She’s really embraced the six role when she’s in there and the eight role. Whether she comes off the bench for us or she starts, she’s going to be an important piece of the puzzle down there.”
Long attributed her national team success after talking with English sports psychologist Dan Abrahams about using the best mental approach in practice and matches.
“He really helped me,” he said. “I remained calm and I knew that I was prepared and I believed that I belonged there, believed I could help the team. I just went into every training session of getting better and just having the mindset of not worrying about the future and just taking it training session by training session, game by game.”
Now Long is ready for the games of her life.