NORTH ROCKLAND, N.Y. -- When she got the call to join the North Rockland High School varsity soccer program, Allie Spong was ready. Even though she was not yet a student at the school.
Spong, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Fieldstone Middle School, was called up late in the season to the varsity by Raiders coach Pete McGovern. Spong made her varsity debut at forward in the team’s final regular-season game. North Rockland’s season ended in the Section 1 Class AA quarterfinals with a 4-1 loss to Arlington.
“I just told myself that this was an honor to be playing for them,’’ Allie said. “This is what I wanted. I went out and gave it my all. I felt very comfortable, like I fit in with the team and that I belonged there.”
Spong started for the North Rockland junior varsity, and McGovern frequently watched the games. Spong, who plays goalkeeper and forward, said McGovern wanted her to join the varsity as a learning experience.
“I just told myself that this was an honor to be playing for them,’’ Allie said. “This is what I wanted. I went out and gave it my all. I felt very comfortable, like I fit in with the team and that I belonged there.” -- Allie Spong
“He wanted me to learn some things from the seniors and upperclassmen and take that experience to become a better player,’’ Spong said. “I learned a lot. You need to give it your all, every practice, every game. The intensity level is extremely high. You need to bring your A game when you’re out there.”
It’s surprising to have a young player such as Spong to merit varsity time at North Rockland, a historically strong program. But Spong, who started playing the game as a toddler, has quickly picked up the skills to earn playing time at higher levels of the sport. She plays travel soccer for the Clarkstown Soccer Club under-15 Elite team coached by Steven Rozycki, and has played in competitive travel soccer programs since she was 8-years-old and played recreation soccer since she was 5-years-old.
“I love it,’’ Spong said. “It became one of my passions. I enjoy the intensity and the fast pace of the game. It brings me out as a person. I love the running.”
Spong said the upperclassmen on North Rockland’s team received her warmly, and that she plans to spend the next year improving her skills. Her role model is Tim Howard, the long-time goalkeeper for the U.S. men’s national soccer team. “He’s not only a great goalkeeper, he’s a leader,’’ said Spong, who trains with national coaches in her age level. “He shows great respect for the U.S.”
Spong said respecting teammates, coaches and officials is important to her. “I strive to be a leader on the field, and to the other girls on the team,’’ she said. “You have to keep your head about you. My parents have always taught me to be respectful and show good manners.”
Spong spends time on the soccer field even when she’s not playing. Every Sunday, she helps children with disabilities play soccer. “I love to work with kids,’’ she said. “I’d love to pursue working with children who have disabilities. It’s good to see them have a smile on their face when they’re done.”
Spong is also a member of the National Junior Honor Society, a Cadette level Girl Scout, altar server at St. Peter’s/St. Mary’s Church in Haverstraw and stellar student. While she juggles all of those interests, she’s also hoping to help North Rockland’s girls soccer team remain one of the region’s best programs over the next four years.
“I hope I can play on the varsity next year,’’ Spong said. “I want to keep working hard. Hopefully we can make it to the finals and bring something home for our team and our school.”