United States women’s soccer national team member Sam Mewis remembers what it’s like to be a young player learning the game.
And on Monday, the Massachusetts native visited Long Island to serve as an assistant coach for the day to teach girls on the LIFE soccer club fundamentals and give instructions at Crestwood Day Camp in Melville.
“It’s really rewarding,” said Mewis, a member of the North Carolina Courage in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). “I was them so I remember having posters of people on the national team on my walls and going to games and wanting autographs, so it’s really cool to see it come full circle,” she said. “If I get to have any positive influence on them, that’s just really rewarding for me.”
The girls, ages 9 to 13, were thrilled to spend the afternoon with one of the players they aspire to be like.
“It’s been really cool because you don’t get the chance very often,” said Kailey Schneidler, 11, from Huntington. “She’s famous, she’s got a lot to do, and you always want to have a role model in life because you want to be them. They looked up to someone and then somebody looked up to them.”
Mewis was a No. 4 overall selection in the 2015 NWSL Draft. The 6-foot, 24-year-old midfielder played in one Under-17 and two Under-20 World Cups for Team USA and joined the women’s national team victory tour roster after its 2015 World Cup championship.
“It’s such an honor,” Mewis said. “I think it’s taught me a lot that hard work can go a long way and playing in the league is a huge challenge but it’s so much fun.”
Although Mewis is from Massachusetts, she has knowledge about Long Island soccer. Women’s national team players Crystal Dunn (Rockville Centre) and Allie Long (Northport) both grew up and excelled playing soccer on Long Island.
“I think that Long Island is really special,” Mewis said. “It’s just kind of a hotbed for soccer and for these girls to have this kind of community is so valuable for them . . . They learn leadership, they learn teamwork, they learn so much. Long Island is just such a great place, even just this camp again, it’s just unbelievable.”
Mewis enjoys being able to be a role model for younger girls. She said she likes how sports can help shape confidence for girls and feels honored to be a part of that development.
“The coolest part about it is then coming to something like this and sharing with these girls my experiences and what has shaped me and helped me,” Mewis said. “Hopefully sports can continue to help women have really important and influential roles in the world, which I think is one of the things most important about sports.”
As the girls lined up for team and individual pictures with Mewis, the magnitude of the moment was never lost on the young athletes.
“It’s pretty cool because it’s not that often that someone famous as a soccer player as her comes in and teaches you what to do,” Schneidler said. “And the right stuff to do.”