Sullivan reciprocates this commitment, stopping by practices for foot drills before making the 30-mile, rush-hour trek from Lorton to Bethesda for club practice, where she often stays late for workouts. The Stanford recruit also maximizes every free moment, training in her garage or attending Washington Spirit games to further develop her uncanny poise with the ball and strong understanding of the game.
“Andi’s what we call a junkie because she always works so hard and always wants to play,” said Ellis Pierre, who coaches Sullivan’s Bethesda SC club team.
(John McDonnell/The Washington Post) - “The girls want to have that high school experience, and you want them to have it, too, but with players like Andi and Brittany, they need to train at a high level to maintain their edge for the national team,” South County Coach Jean Coder said.
Basinger is often lauded for her motor and fitness. When opponents get tired, that’s when the Penn State recruit elevates her play, locking down strikers as a defender for her club team while thriving with 13 goals in her new attack role within Woodgrove’s offense.
“Brittany’s always had a tremendous work rate,” said Paul Ellis, who coaches Basinger’s FC Virginia club team. “She can move from box to box and cover 100 yards to where she’s always in a position to be dangerous,”
Both Basinger and Sullivan compete in the Elite Clubs National League, a high-level program created in 2009 that has further elevated the avenues for development in the D.C. area. Thanks to the depth of competition, strength of coaching and early exposure to technical training, the potential is there for players to realize international and professional success similar to that of local products Mia Hamm (Lake Braddock) and Ali Krieger (Forest Park).
“This area has so many young players who love the game, and they jump at all the local opportunities to develop themselves,” said Krieger, the 2003 All-Met Player of the Year who plays on the U.S. women’s national team and Washington Spirit.
For Basinger and Sullivan, Krieger is their Brandi Chastain. The defender’s decisive penalty kick in the 2011 Women’s World Cup quarterfinals is etched in their soccer lore much like Chastain’s celebratory sports-bra pose is for those old enough to remember.
Reaching those heights is what pushes Basinger and Sullivan, who both earned a taste of it last fall at the U-17 World Cup in Azerbaijan. Although the team didn’t make it out of group stage play, the experience helped legitimize their tireless work and arduous schedule.
“I remember the first game. The streets and stadium were flooded with thousands of people to see us play,” recalled Sullivan, the youngest player on the squad. “When I ran out for warmups, it was like ‘We’re here. This is it.’ It was a life-changing moment that still motivates me now.”