Koty Millard relies on hard work to maintain an "A" average at Cardinal Newman High. He is experiencing the same kind of success on the soccer field
Millard, 14, recently earned a spot on the under-15 U.S. National Team. He was among 18 players chosen out of the 35 who tried out in March in Bradenton, Fla. Millard leaves today for Argentina, where the team will play three games next week.
"I was really excited when I first found out but a little nervous at the same time," said Millard, who also is a member of the Cardinals' soccer team. "I am proud of myself, but I also know there's a lot of work to be done still."
It will begin with games against the U-15 national teams from Argentina and Uruguay and then a matchup with an local Argentinean professional team.
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Millard, who is a midfielder/defender, started playing soccer when he was 3. He was coached by his father, Jimmy Millard, before joining SC United, an affiliate of the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association, when he was 13.
Clark Brisson, who coaches Millard at SC United, said he has watched Millard develop into a well-rounded player.
"He does a lot of things well," Brisson said. "His work ethic and passion is unbelievable. His commitment is also good, and he has very good ball skills."
Millard first impressed U.S. scouts while playing in Florida last fall, Brisson said. That earned him an invitation to national-team tryouts.
Entering camp, Millard felt confident he would make the squad, but he knew it would be difficult. During 10 days of training, players took part in morning and afternoon workouts of about 90 minutes each.
"I expected high-level training, and that's what it really was," Millard said.
Millard was placed on the "A" team from the start of camp, which helped his confidence.
He felt best about his performances in the scrimmages, which were mainly contested against the under-17 residency team based in Florida.
"I felt confident in all the games we played," Millard said. "I had expected myself to do good in the games, but I wanted to play a little better in practice."
Millard attributes much of his success to his time at SC United, where he benefited from playing with players who were two years older than him. Confident in his possession skills and passing accuracy, he said he has been able to improve his mental approach in the past year.
"Playing at SC United has helped develop my thought process," Millard said. "Now, when I am on the field, I can make quicker decisions."
Brisson also has noticed Millard's progression in this aspect of the game.
"He knows when to pass the ball and when to kick the ball," Brisson said.
Millard will be on the national team for one year and, depending on his performance, longer. He is ready to take his game global.
"I am little bit nervous, but I am more nervous about all the flying than the playing," Millard said.