By Robert Lucke
Anna Wass lives for soccer. Maybe even more than that. The Chinook 16-year-old plays in as many leagues as she can find, coaches whenever she can, and even drives to Havre most every night just to referee all age groups of soccer players.
I do drive to Havre almost every night, Wass said with a grin. In fact, my parents just got the gas bill last night.
And now Wass is working on starting a traveling spring soccer league.
What I am working on is a U18 league. Anyone 18 or under can play. It is a guys team, but girls can try out, Wass said.
In Montana, there are two leagues: a competitive league and a recreational league. For now, Wass sees this new league as recreational, but later on perhaps, competitive. And for certain, it will evolve sometime into an all-girls soccer league.
Right now, I have 38 kids. That is almost enough to get two teams started, if possible, Wass added.
At 16, Wass is an old-timer in Montana soccer.
I have been playing since I was four and love it, Wass said. In fact, I was going to move to Great Falls and play for the Thunderbolts (a competitive soccer team in Great Falls).
But then, when the challenge of a traveling soccer team came along, that kept her around home for a few more years.
U.S. soccer really makes the day for Wass.
I really like Mia Hamm, Wass said. I have a whole wall in my room just dedicated to soccer stuff.
It is aggressiveness that makes the game for Wass.
It is an aggressive sport, Wass said. I have been playing it since I was four and I hope I have improved. It is sort of like football, but pretty much full contact without pads.
Biggest problem with girls in the leagues around here is that they have a hard time getting aggressive enough, Wass asserts.
But Wass has had lots of help in learning the game from a soccer mentor.
When Jeannie Dalton moved to town was the best thing that ever happened to me, Wass said. She came from California and is a certified ref, and we have been undefeated every year that I played for her. She knows what she is doing.
This new league will start its schedule in April and have a large tournament for the Montanas Cup next Memorial Day.
Soccer looms large in Wass future.
If you play well enough, you can get to college on soccer, and if you really like the game, Wass confided. I am hoping to play at Gonzaga. It is just fun to play anywhere.
Registration for the new league is Nov. 25, with forms at schools in Chinook and Havre.
Meanwhile, move over Mia Hamm. Here comes Anna Wass!