If her New Year’s resolution was to travel more, GPS junior Mary Wamack can mark that as complete one week into 2024. To kick off the new year, Mary and her family ventured to Spain with the Tennessee Olympic Development Program (ODP) soccer team. Created in 1977, ODP identifies national team players at the youth level and provides development opportunities for these potential national team players. ODP players begin playing at the local level before progressing to the state, region, and possibly national levels. According to their website, “By playing with like-talented athletes, ODP offers the opportunity for players to advance in their personal development and to be scouted by college coaches.”
To make the Tennessee ODP team, players are evaluated on four criteria during open tryouts at District Training: Technique, Tactics, Fitness and Athletic Ability, and Attitude. District Training is conducted by the state association coaches who are recognized for their ability to identify and train players with superior skills. Some state associations combine scouting techniques and invitations to certain players with the open tryouts. Mary has been a member of the team for several years.
On December 31, the Wamacks flew to Spain alongside Mary’s ODP teammates for a weeklong Spanish Futbol experience. In addition to all the incredible history and tourist attractions in Barcelona, the team had the opportunity to attend two La Liga professional soccer matches. They also played three friendly matches against local Barcelona soccer club teams and had the unique opportunity for a training session with coaches of the professional soccer club, RCD Espanyol de Barcelona.
Mary said about the experience, “Spain is a beautiful country. The city's architecture was amazing. One of my favorite places we visited was Sagrada Família. I am so grateful I was able to see such an amazing country and have the privilege of playing soccer there.”
The trip to Spain was actually Mary’s second international trip with the Tennessee Girls ODP team. In 2022, she had the opportunity to travel to England to play. That experience was so wonderful for her family that they knew Spain was a must this time around. Her mom, Lisa Wamack ’89, explained, “The England trip with ODP was such a great experience for Mary and our family. When the trip to Spain was announced, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity.”
In addition to playing for the Tennessee ODP team, Mary is a member of the GPS Bruisers Varsity Soccer Team. We can’t wait to see what her senior season will bring next year!