A chip off the block

MANCHESTER - At the young age of 13, Hannah Pinkus is one of the best soccer players in the state for her age.

Pinkus was one of only two girls from Vermont selected to attend a Regional Camp in Buffalo, N.Y. Out of the approximately 90 girls that are expected to attend that camp, 25 will be chosen to go to the U.S. National Team camp in Arizona. There 100 of the best players from throughout the country - 25 from each region - will compete for a spot on the U.S. National Team - something Pinkus said has been a goal of hers for the past couple of years.

"That would mean a lot to me," she said. "I would be really proud because all my hard work that I've done to get there would [have] paid off and I would just keep on working harder."

But before she gets a shot to compete for the U.S. National Team, Pinkus must first be selected from the Regional camp, which will take place in December. Pinkus attended the camp last year, but ultimately wasn't chosen to attend the U.S. National Team camp.

"Last year she was the only girl from Vermont. So, she's made it two years in a row now [for] the same age group," said Hannah's father Brenton Pinkus who played professional soccer for Crystal Palace in England. "Last year she was young. She was the youngest one there."

Pinkus was selected for the Regional camp following a five day camp that took place last month. State teams from all over the northeast attended the camp and some of the bigger states - such as New York and Pennslyvania - were represented by two teams.

In some of those bigger states, hundreds of kids try out to make the state teams. In Vermont that number is significantly lower with about 30 kids trying out for one of the 18 spots on the team, said Brenton Pinkus. As a result, Pinkus said some of the other players are often surprised to hear that she is from Vermont and she feels the need to play well and represent the state.

Performing at an elite level is not always easy though as a lot of Division I college soccer coaches and U.S. National Team coaches attend the camps.

"There's a lot of pressure so sometimes it's hard to play as well as I can with all the coaches watching and they all have clipboards and everything. So, if you mess up that can affect you," said Pinkus. "They expect you to make mistakes, but still it's a lot of pressure so you kind of just have to block them out and just focus on what you're doing."

Pinkus began playing soccer when she was five and first began playing for a team at the age of seven for a U10 team. Over the last several years though she has become more serious about the sport and has been making strides to improve her game.

Over the past year, Pinkus said there is one area in particular where she feels she has improved that will help her and her teams moving forward.

"I think communication and working as a team," Pinkus said of how she's improved. "Not being bossy, but being instructive, [and] helping out my team so everybody knows what to do and telling them where they need to go to help us in the game."

This year, Pinkus said she worked even harder to prove that she could be chosen for the U.S. National Team camp, which will be held in February and credits the success she's had to a couple of people.

"I think my coach and my dad have probably made the biggest impact on my performance at the camps and at tournaments and games," she said. "They expect me to do well and if I don't do well they know I can do better so they push me to do as well as I can."


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