Halverson, who was last featured in October when we talked about her call in to the National ODP program that led to time with the U17 WNT team during Camp in June. She followed that experience by being named to the 25 player camp that U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team head coach B.J. Snow held November 1-8 at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, Calif.
In Club play, the Futura squad (now FCKC Futura Forte Elite after a merger with the NWSL Youth program) won the Region II tournament before falling in the semifinal round at the USYSA National Championships. Coming up is the Premier I Division of MRL as well as a return to the National League.
Brionna has also been named to the Region II team yet again as well as receiving an invitation to participate in the Thanksgiving Inter-Regionals to be held in Boca Raton for the second year in a row. She is one of only two players from Missouri on the 1999 team, joined by her club teammate Kayla Deaver from Lee’s Summit.
We talked about the recruiting experience on Wednesday. As I usually hear, Halverson considered it a fun but stressful process that she is happy to have behind her. She did her homework and visited half a dozen campuses including Big Ten programs Illinois, Iowa and Michigan as well as UMKC. There were a number of factors to consider, such as grandparents in Michigan and experiences with College Coaches at ODP events. SLU was the only program she visited twice and it was her relationship with Head Coach Katie Shields that tipped the balance. Shield’s listening skills and enthusiasm for Brionna’s goals were the difference. It’s not just the coach that’s attracted her to the program, staying close to home and having a choice of majors that range from business, entrepreneurship and psychology gives her confidence in her choice.
Halverson has also been transitioning her game. A Foward primarily on her High School team, the Bolivar Liberators, the state coaches recognized her as an Honorable Mention as a freshman and then last Spring she jumped to the First team in Class 2, one of four sophomores so recognized. While she’ll likely continue in that role for High School, she has been transitioning to an outside defender role for Club and ODP. I first saw her play that role in the Region II Final and she spent half of her time in the offensive end creating. She’s got good vision, is a student of the game and I counted only one errant pass on the day. It’s the combination of attacking and defending that has her most excited about the move.
It first came about during her time with the U17 WNT at camp. Early in the process players were asked to identify the position they would be most comfortable with by the Coaches. As she watched players choosing forward and midfield she made the decision to claim a spot that was attracting less interest. As she has seen the professional game evolve to requiring outside backs to be major contributors to the attack, she intuitively made her move and it’s been an exciting evolution. As she notes, she’s been fortunate that both her ODP and Club Coaches have been supportive.
She’s a versatile player that’s also provided minutes in the midfield and offense for FCKC. She specifically mentioned she’s been enjoying the opportunity to play in the other positions as its taught her to think about what type of passes she wants or needs in those positions and how she can deliver them to her teammates depending on the role she is in.
Midwest Regional League (MRL) begins next weekend in Rockford and the ODP Thanksgiving Inter-Regional will be here plenty soon. One player she’s gotten to know through the ODP and Region II program has been Kerry Abello, an outside left back that is headed for Penn State. The opportunity to play with, and observe Kerry is something she is really excited about.
Brionna has two Club seasons before she arrives on campus at St. Louis University in August 2017 and I know she’s going to make the most of them. As I shared with her, some of my favorite players at SLU have been outside backs. Jessie Jarrett, going into her second year as a Graduate Assistant, owned the outside right spot almost from the beginning as a SLU player. Sophomore Molly Ream (St. Dominic) and Michelle Schwartz offer current examples of how the position should be played. All three are highly technical, have pace, attitude and vision. As she streams game, it will be Ream in particular she will be watching in the coming two years.
On a side note, her home in Bolivar is also home to the Division II Southwest Baptist University program and is located approximately 30 minutes north of Springfield Missouri.