The NBA playoffs usually produce a few young stars, with the spotlight that comes from the increased pressure really pushing some players to ascend to new levels of play. Last year, Pascal Siakam became a shocking number two option on an NBA championship team. This year, it's going to be Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder who...
Addisyn Merrick Always Finds a Way
In the United States, money usually dictates those who get the opportunity to make a career out of soccer. In a youth soccer system dictated by exorbitant fees and excessive membership costs, many athletes are forced to look elsewhere or compete at no more than a recreational level.
The daughter of a single parent, Addisyn was mostly raised by her mother and grandmother in the absence of a father she wouldn't meet till highschool. The financial constraints of a single parent are tough, especially when raising 4 children all involved athletically.
There were times where she had to consider quitting club soccer due to financial limitations but fortunately her mother and grandmother always found a way.
Merrick picked up the game in the footsteps of her two older siblings, who played soccer at one point or the other. Part of a very athletic family, her biological father played professional baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates, while her older brother was a draft pick for the Kansas City Royals and would play in the farm system for a few years.
Merrick developed a love for the game from day 1.
Every step along the way, she had coaches who saw a vision of what she could be, dating back to youth soccer where she recalls a coach telling her she would be on TV one day. She was only 7 but that stuck in her mind and it further fueled her dedication to make her dreams come true.
Coaches like Tim Richardson, Huw Williams, Gareth Pritchard, and Vlatko Andonovski - yes the same Vlatko Andonovski that now coaches the U.S. Women's National Team - all played a vital role in the player and person Addisyn would become.
While club soccer for the highly-decorated Sporting Blue Valley Club offered a supremely competitive environment filled with division 1 caliber players, soccer at Lees Summit North High School offered a more relaxed environment where Addisyn could put aside financial worries and play the game she's always loved.
As one of the best players to have come through Lees Summit North Highschool, Merrick ended her highschool career with a preview of what was to come at the collegiate level, by taking away the Missouri State Defensive Player of the Year award for the second year running.
Yet despite a highly decorated high school career, and success at the club level, Merrick saw her college options limited. Recruiting for Women's Soccer is highly competitive, with 78% of all female college players reporting contact from college coaches at sophomore year or earlier. Addisyn certainly had interest early on but the issue was she would have to take unofficial visits due to NCAA rules, and once again financial constraints played a role.
Merrick had a dilemma, she didn't want to commit to a school she had never visited. So, she could either wait till late junior or senior year to take official visits, at which point most scholarships would be gone, or pay out of pocket to take unofficial visits. Addisyn couldn't afford to visit the schools interested on a national scale, but Kansas University was an opportunity to play high level Division 1 soccer and take an unofficial visit only about an hour away from home.
Once Merrick set foot on campus and KU made their offer official, Addisyn knew she wanted to be a Jayhawk.
What followed was a challenging 4 years filled with ups and downs both on a personal and athletic level. Merrick maintained her professionalism, never doubted her talent and was rewarded with a huge senior season filled with awards and highlight reel defensive plays.
- On November 5th, 2019, she was named the BIG 12 Defensive Player of the Year
- On November 10th, 2019, backs up Defensive Player of the Year award by leading KU to the school's first Conference Tournament Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament while giving up just one goal in three games.
- On November 22nd, 2019, becomes the school's all-time leader in minutes, a testament to a career that saw her play in 87 of 87 games, on an average of 87 minutes a game.
- On January 16th, 2020, Addisyn is selected by the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL draft
The coach that told her she would be on TV one day proved to be an oracle, the North Carolina Courage are the premier team in the NWSL; boasting multiple U.S. National Team Players, a great coach, and two straight league championships.
As far as her advice for younger athletes, like her younger sister, who want to follow in her footsteps, Addisyn believes a dedication to enjoyment is key to success, soccer should never be a chore.
Those close to Addisyn sing praises of her character and mentality both as a friend and an athlete, there are no days off whether it's taking care of her family and friends, or dedicating countless individual hours to improving into the player she wants to be.
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