On Monday, December 19, the Connecticut College women's soccer program welcomed Carli Lloyd to campus for a meet and greet that drew more than 700 fans into Palmer Auditorium.
Lloyd, the 2015 FIFA Player of the Year, two-time Olympic gold medalist and Captain of the United States national team, share her experiences with fans and followers that spanned a wide demographic range.
Fans also had a chance to meet and greet Lloyd and obtain a copy of her book, "Carli Lloyd: When Nobody was Watching."
Connecticut College Head Women's Soccer Coach Norm Riker hosted the event in the Whaling City. Winning women's soccer games in New London, well, it's sort of become the norm.
The Camels set a program record with their 16 victories in 2014, capturing the College's first NESCAC Crown while advancing into the second round of the NCAA Championship. This fall, the team posted another double-digit win total, reaching the round of 32 in the NCAAs for the second time in three years.
So it would only be fitting that one of the most successful teams on campus would host and welcome and an international icon and champion in the sport of soccer.
"Dream big and then work hard to make it happen is a hallmark of the Connecticut College Women's Soccer team and a saying often heard when explaining the culture we have established in our program," Coach Riker said. "And it is exactly what we had to do to make the Carli Lloyd event such a success. I knew that with all the great people connected to Connecticut College and the Southeast Soccer Club that we could make it happen and do it right!"
Riker, a native of Block Island, R.I. has entrenched himself into the community here in New London County, trying to reach girls and women of all ages to promote the game he's committed his life to and Lloyd's appearance was just another example of how far the game has advanced on the Shoreline over the past decade.
"Yes! We are doing this!" That was my only thought Riker had in arranging such a large scale event. "Carli Lloyd is the world's best soccer player, the captain of the United States Women's Team, World Cup Champion, and one of the world's best known female sports figures and we had the chance to have her visit Connecticut College and speak to our community and region... it was worth all the work to get her here. The news came on short notice, the timing tight, and there was little wiggle room... but that is what also made it work... because of short timing this event was the focus and stayed the focus point for the region."
The Camel women's soccer team welcomed Lloyd to the stage. Junior Alexa Tribelli of Cranston, R.I. enjoyed another terrific season on the pitch. She buried the game-winning goal in overtime against conference rival Middlebury on September 10 to spark her team on their championship run. Tribelli was honored to meet one of her childhood heroes in an intimate environment Monday night.
"I had an unbelievable time meeting one of my role models on Monday," Tribelli said. "I always looked up to her as a little girl, because she was such a leader on the field for the U.S. Women's National Team and always knew how to get the job done. On Monday, she made a point of mentioning how kids are pressured by their parents to play soccer, nagging them to go to practice, really just taking the fun out of the game. Carli's unstoppable work ethic and true love for soccer is a testament to how far soccer can take you in life if you're willing to fight and put in the work for it. It was truly an honor to meet/host Carli, she was so nice and approachable to players of all ages (not something you always see with athletes at her level) and it was a night none of us will forget!"
Amanda Proulx, a senior leader and captain of the Camel defense from Smithfield, R.I. appreciated Lloyd's visit to the Whaling City."
"It was such a great experience to meet Carli Lloyd," Proulx said. "I have been watching her play and in the Olympics and World Cups for years, so it was really cool to finally get to meet her in person and hear her story."
It's clear that Riker and the Camels' winning approach and its impact on the soccer community span far beyond the paint of the fields that they have enjoyed their success on. With a leader at the helm of a Camel program like Riker and a team that is inspired to share and teach the world's game to girls and women of all ages, Connecticut College and the New London Community can truly celebrate the Camel women's soccer program's success on and off the field.