Just for kicks: Soccer star storms world

When the movie Thirteen came out, parents quaked in their boots at the idea of young girls gone wild. But 13-year-old Holly Reeder's parents have nothing to fear. With her straight-A average and no hint of a facial piercing or tattoo, their daughter is getting her kicks– and a lot of them– on the soccer field.

Not just a star on the local level, the Sutherland Middle School eighth-grader spent a week in March with the under-14 Virginia Olympic Development team trouncing the opposition in Denmark.

"The team won all its games– sometimes by a lot– and generally beat up on the Scandinavians," boasts her dad, Paul, who notes it was a "great tour for Holly personally, as she was made co-captain at the beginning of the tour and was given the leadership award at the end."

Reeder herself, however, is more modest about her soccer success.

"I just have fun and play it," she says with a shrug.

While her older brothers, Jake and Sam, are "more into lacrosse," Reeder caught the soccer bug at age five when she started playing for the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville Albemarle (SOCA). Her dad was delighted with his daughter's talent. "Right from the beginning," he says, "you could see it."

It's a good thing dad loves the game because he does a lot of weekly driving to support it. Between her two teams– the SOCA travel team, for which he's an assistant coach, and the Olympic Development Team– Reeder typically has a game and four practices, including one in Richmond, where the latter team plays. She plays both defense and offense, and says her favorite trick moves are the "step-over" and the "Reynaldo," in which a player steps over the ball and simultaneously kicks it sideways to evade an opponent.

"Her level of skill commands respect from other players on the team," says her SOCA coach Jen Bhalla, who adds that Reeder could be "very successful at the premier level."

But becoming the next Mia Hamm isn't necessarily Reeder's dream.

"I don't think I want to play soccer professionally," Reeder says, adding that reading an autobiography by soccer Olympian Brandi Chastain helped her clarify her goals.

"Everything's about soccer," she says of Chastain. Finding a balance between sports and other aspects of life is something both Reeder and her parents value.

"I think I balance it pretty well," she says, noting she has made some sacrifices to make time for her sport.

"I can't have sleepovers Friday night, and I can't do anything Saturday," she says, "so that's kind of hard."

And while he knows the schedule is grueling, her dad says overall it's working out well.

"Right now she's really enjoying it," he says. "But if she decides to explore other options, or other sports, that's fine too."

Holly Reeder