Sports

STILL ACCELERATING

FORMER SANTA MARGARITA STANDOUT AND WORLD CUP SENSATION AMY RODRIGUEZ continues to dominate the soccer world

By Tom Connolly     8/11/2015

One would be hard pressed to find an athlete anywhere in the world who has achieved so much success in their sport, and at such a young age, than former Santa Margarita High School and USC soccer player Amy Rodriguez.

At the ripe age of 28, Rodriguez, fresh off a U.S. Women’s World Cup championship this summer, has built an unprecedented resume, second to none.

In 2002 she helped the Eagles win a CIF title as a freshman. Rodriguez had a brilliant career at Santa Margarita and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2005, as well as being named the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times player of the year. Rodriguez was named a Parade All-American in 2003-05.

Eagles’ soccer coach Chuck Morales says Rodriguez is one of the best players he ever coached.

“I first saw Amy in action at our soccer camp when she was in seventh grade,” says Morales. “At Santa Margarita she used her speed to blow past people, especially on her first two touches, and she was a gunner. She wasn’t afraid to shoot; she did it without hesitation.”

Morales says he saw a huge boost in Rodriguez’ confidence following her participation in U.S. youth tournaments in Thailand in 2004 and again in Russia in 2006.

“Her confidence improved after she returned from playing with the national team when she was 16 years old,” Morales added. “I think it was the turning point for her. After she returned she told me she wanted to compete on the world level.”

Rodriguez attended USC and finished as the Trojans’ number-four all-time scorer and set a record for most game-winning goals (12). She was the cornerstone of the Trojans’ attack and led USC to its first-ever NCAA soccer championship in 2007. She scored twice in the semifinal victory over UCLA and was named MVP of the tournament.

In 2008 ‘A-Rod’, as she is known to her teammates, made the U.S. Olympics team and helped the USA capture a gold medal at the 2008 games in China. She scored a goal in a game against New Zealand and assisted on Carli Lloyd’s game-winning goal in the first period of extra time in the gold medal match to clinch the title.

Rodriguez’s accolades include U.S. victories at the Algarve Cup in 2008, 2010 and 2011. She was also a part of U.S. victories in the Four Nations Tournaments in 2008 and 2011.

Rodriguez earned her second Olympic gold medal as the U.S. repeated its victory performance in 2012 in London.

Rodriguez, a 5-foot, 4-inch forward, is known for her remarkable strength and accelerating speed. She has powerful legs and has played brilliantly in international competition in her career, amassing 29 goals and 19 assists.

“At every level as I moved up, whether it was from high school to college or college to the national team or the Olympics or World Cup play, I was playing against a higher caliber of player and I knew I had to improve to compete,” says Rodriguez.

“It’s a hard transition and the competition always got faster, stronger and I had to make better decisions. I was totally intimidated and it was scary, but I ran with it and worked hard.”

Morales says that Rodriguez doesn’t take her success for granted and continues to give back her time by working with younger athletes.

“Amy visits our soccer camps and answers every question and takes tons of pictures with all of the girls,” says Morales. “With all of her success she is grounded and humble. She always leads by example. Individual records were not important to her; it was all about the team.”

“I have fun and I want to be inspiring to young girls,” Rodriguez says. “I want to show the girls that they can do whatever they want to do, whether it’s on the field or off.”

Rodriguez is currently playing professionally for FC Kansas City of the National Women’s Soccer League and has her sights on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

“I’m enjoying Kansas City and I’m looking forward to making the U.S. team and competing in the Olympics next summer,” says Rodriguez, who helped Kansas City win the NWSL title in 2014. “I feel I can still play and I’m not ready to retire.

“Soccer has opened so many doors for me. I’ve gotten to travel the world. I look forward to trying to make the Olympic team next year and to continue to play.”

And as if that weren’t enough, Rodriguez is also a mother. She and her husband, Adam Shilling, welcomed their first child, Ryan John Shilling, on August 6, 2013.

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