Alexa Spaanstra is one of a few two-sport stars on this World Cup team. Spaanstra is an elite runner as well as a top club soccer player. Her track exploits put her on the national radar before her soccer talents brought into the discussion.
Spaanstra finished third in the 200 meter dash for 10-9 year olds in 2009. She was the only nine year old in the top eight. In typical Alexa Spaanstra fashion, the third place finish was not good enough. She went back the next year and won the event by over a second.
Her love for the track did not dissipate over the years. She is still running strong and picking up honors along the way. Last year, she was named to the county girls track team after her freshman season with Brighton High School. Her high school track coach described Spaanstra as having the heart of a lion and the speed of a cheetah.
“Alexa actually feeds off the competition and performs better the greater the stakes,” Brighton High School Track coach Geri Gree told the Livingston Daily in 2015.
Spaanstra’s club coach Doug Landefeld also noticed the teenager’s ability to raise to the occasion when he began to believe she had national team potential.
“It was at the U13 level when she started scoring goals in big games that we thought she could do something at the next level,” Landefeld told TopDrawerSoccer.
Spaanstra’s knack for thriving in the big moments has made her one of the regulars with the U.S. U17 WNT since the first camp. She has only missed three camps since 2014.
The qualities that have impressed the youth national team coaches have been present since the start with the Michigan Hawks.
“She was always the fastest player and hardest worker in the age group,” Landefeld said about the Brighton, Mich.-native, who joined Hawks at the U11 age group.
Since her arrival with the national team, Spaanstra has only increased her training so she could be ready to go once those big moments come up in games.
“Alexa has always worked hard to get better,” Landefeld said. “With the World Cup coming up, we have seen her putting even more into every workout to make she is ready to help her team. She has always been a great teammate while striving to be the very best she can be.”