Isabella Cook has played soccer since she was 4, so it’s always been a big part of her life.
The last five months have been a whirlwind.
Cook, a senior at York who plays club with the Eclipse, has trained with the USA national teams since August. She traveled to the Netherlands in November.
In December, she scored the winning goal for the U.S. under-20 women against China at the Women’s Nike International Friendlies in Florida.
“It’s been a little overwhelming, but at the same time it’s been exciting,” said Cook, who also committed to Tennessee in November. “It feels like it’s an important time in my life.”
For Cook, who started with Team Elmhurst and later moved to the Eclipse, that life changed in August 2018.
She’s been in the Olympic Development Program since 2013, scouted by national coaches but never called back.
At a showcase in San Diego, she was invited to the U-17 camp in August in Kansas City. From there, she progressed to the U-18 camp in October in Florida, and then to the U-19 camp in November in the Netherlands.
It was Cook’s first trip abroad, a different experience. So is playing internationally at such a high level.
“The speed of play in the game, when you are at the highest level, it’s really fast and you have to adapt. You turn your shoulders and someone is on you,” said Cook, a holding midfielder. “My speed of play and touches on the ball, my awareness and understanding have got a lot faster.”
Cook was in the Netherlands for about a week. She did notice that each country’s team has its own style.
“The Netherlands were a lot bigger and stronger than us; they would man mark us,” Cook said. “For France, they were strongest on the outside. China was the opposite of France, they’d play through the middle. We would force China to go around us, and for France force them in.”
When Cook returned from the Netherlands, she was called up to the U-20 team. They started with a 2-1 loss against France at the Friendlies. In the 51st minute against China, Cook finished a service from Virginia’s Alexa Spaanstra for the eventual game-winner in a 1-0 victory.
Cook ran in from the top of the box and shot it into the upper left hand corner of the goal.
“I was kind of in disbelief,” Cook said. “I threw my hands up in the air, I found my teammates and we all hugged. It felt like I was on top of the world.”
Cook, back in Elmhurst, trains every day but Fridays. She’s still playing with the Eclipse, and leaves for Tennessee in July for classes.
Her next camp with the U-20 national team is in February.
“It’s been a life-changing experience,” Cook said. “I want to take it as far as I can – World Cup, maybe professionally.”