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Bellevue freshman finds herself among nation's best on soccer field | Prep sports news
When Joanna (Jojo) Harber helped her Eastside FC select soccer team to the U14 National Championship during the summer, winning the Golden Ball trophy in the process for leading the tournament in scoring, it was a crowning achievement in her young career.
Little did she know less than three months later, she would receive an even bigger honor for her on-field exploits.
Harber was one of only 36 girls ages 14 and under selected by US Soccer to participate in its Girls National Team Camp in California. The program, developed and operated by US Soccer as part of its mission to identify and develop top-shelf talent for its national squads, offered a chance to compete with and against the top players in her age group from around the country and gain familiarity with National Team coaches and processes.
"I was so excited," Harber said. "I knew it was a great opportunity."
Campers trained with U14 Girls National Team head coach April Kater and staffers from US Soccer for a week at the national training center in Carson, Calif. and spent time on the field, in meeting rooms and learning about every aspect of competing for the United States in international soccer competition. Harber was spotted by Kater during a pair of tournaments with her Eastside FC squad during the spring and summer, offering the opportunity to get an inside look at what it takes to compete at the highest level.
"I was kind of worried going into it," Harber said. "But I played to my full potential and found I really did fit in."
The camp was far from the first time Harber found herself among elite players and the Bellevue High School freshman said she will now turn her attention to the prep team.
In addition to her time with the Eastside FC squad that brought home a National Title, Harber has also played with Elite Player Development teams and Olympic Development teams. She said the experience of camping with the nation's best 14 and under girls offered even more hope for a future competing at the highest levels of soccer.
"It was really a dream come true," she said. "It was really intense but really fun and inspiring."