01/12/10 — Frazer couldn't pass up great opportunity

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Frazer couldn't pass up great opportunity

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 12, 2010 11:18 AM

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A chance to give something back to the sport she loves.

Samantha Frazer couldn't say "no" and she can hardly wait for the summer.

The St. Andrews Presbyterian College women's soccer standout has accepted an invitation from USA Athletics International to represent her country at the Bajan Goodwill Games in Barbados in mid-July.

Composed from select athletes across the nation, Frazer and her teammates will compete daily to help foster international relationships between the Caribbean nations and the USA.

"It's unimaginable ... a real honor and an opportunity I didn't want to turn down," said Frazer. "I wanted to play soccer some more because I only have one year left of college."

But the trip involves more.

"You get to teach kids, which is something that I really want to do," said Frazer, an elementary education major. "I've wanted to be a coach ever since I've gotten to college and I want to teach. I want to give something back."

Dane Straight, head coach at Cowley (Kan.) College, will direct the select squad. He chose players based on two key elements -- athletic ability and the ability to represent the USA, and either college or university in a positive manner.

With the exception of the U.S. Olympic program, there are few opportunities for athletes to experience the competition, history and culture of other countries on an international level.

USAAI has been participating in international competition since 1992. Originally called the Midwest All-Stars, the organization provided overseas playing opportunities to baseball players. The success of that program eventually prompted requests from abroad for other sporting teams to participate.

Now, USAAI participates in over 60 annual tours, and is represented by more than 900 athletes in seven sports that travel around the world to 14 countries.

"We're going up against other countries and playing teams within the country," said Frazer, the daughter of Deane Bernel of Goldsboro. "It's going to be an interesting competition, not only because of the soccer, but because I have never been overseas or learned about other cultures abroad except what I've read in books.

"You don't actually understand it until you go abroad."

Members of the St. Andrews men's soccer team traveled to Italy last summer. Frazer saw the pictures, heard about the athletes' adventures off the soccer field and instantly knew she would do everything possible not to miss her chance -- if it arised.

Now, it's here.

"It's awesome," said Frazer, who is responsible for doing her own training in preparation for the 10-day journey.

"(A) big fun trip that has everything I've wanted for the last couple of years," said Frazer. "I get to do part of my dream ... snorkeling because I wanted to be marine biologist at UNC Wilmington. It's going to be a good experience, I hope."

And one she'll never forget.