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Further to our article on Brynessa Gradley's aims for a US scholarship three weeks ago, the England-qualified striker has revealed that she has accepted an offer to join a top NCAA team - Penn State University.
Penn State (PSU) is ranked second by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) for NCAA Division One. To be ranked in the "Top 10" is to be considered one of the USA's 'powerhouse teams', as Division One is the Premiership of the NCAA university football scene. It consists of about 300 universities and colleges, and is in addition to the 200 or so Division Two, and 400 or so Division Three schools. So far this season, PSU have won all eight matches, having beaten other "Top 10" teams such as Virginia and, in a recent tournament in California, UCLA (Los Angeles).
Bryn had been in touch with PSU head coach, Paula Wilkins, since grade 10 at school. Paula was intrigued by Bryn's football achievements, but she needed to have someone observe Bryn's play first hand. Bryn sought out a team who were playing in the March 2005 "Las Vegas College Showcase" tournament, and who needed an extra striker. PSU sent assistant coach Michael Coll to observe her. "I was so enthusiastic to show my stuff in front of PSU," says Bryn, "but my optimism quickly turned to worry as the team I was playing for hardly ever played me the ball. In the past, they had been very successful scoring from midfield and didn't appear to know what to do with a striker. I was so worried I had lost my chance that I sent PSU an email apologising for the circumstances under which they observed me playing. Michael Coll's reply was that he was very impressed with my runs off the ball and with my athleticism, and that PSU were very interested in me, and that eased my fears!"
Interest turned to action when Bryn was asked to visit PSU from August 26-28 to see what it was like there. "It is a long way from Vancouver," admits Bryn, "but it puts me closer to England than if I went to a university in the west.
"This is one of the reasons why I chose PSU. Once I visited with the coaches and players and toured the campus, along with the academic and athletic reputation of PSU, I knew it was the right place for me. It will be a real challenge to be playing with and against some of the top players in all of the United States, but I am up to the task!"
In the meantime, Bryn is now focused on the USL Super Y-League North American Championships in Tampa Bay, Florida, from November 18-22, where her Vancouver Whitecaps side will be trying to improve on their 2004 Bronze Medal, and on her Coquitlam FC Women's Premier Team.
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