Meghan Klingenberg set for Summer Olympics

Jerry Clark
| Monday, June 18, 2012, 12:37 p.m.

High-profile athletes and Pittsburgh's northern region have been going hand-in-hand these days. The latest athlete to ascend to the verge of superstardom is former Pine-Richland soccer player Meghan Klingenberg, who will serve as an alternate on the U.S. women's Olympic team this summer in London.Earning a spot with the U.S. team is an honor for Klingenberg, who said the lack of a high-profile women's league made the road to the Olympic team difficult. That is something she hopes changes in the near future."I think there is a place for women's soccer in the U.S.," Klingenberg said. In order to be on the radar of the Olympic team, her body of work in college and time with the U.S. Women's National team and U-20 World Cup team helped, but she still had to attend several camps to stay near the forefront."I realized in November and December I would have a chance to make the Olympic team," she said. "I knew I had to kick it into high gear though when I went to a three-week camp in Princeton, New Jersey and Philadelphia."Klingenberg did everything she could, and when the coaches called her into their office to talk about what role Klingenberg would play, she knew she was one of the lucky players who received some good news."I made it as an alternate, but the cool thing is, we actually get to go with the team to London," Klingenberg said. "In the past, alternates had to stay behind and work out on their own until they were needed."I don't want to see anyone get hurt, but I am there in case someone gets hurt, so I have to be ready."There are 18 players on the Olympic team, and Klingenberg is ready to play a back or outside mid position."This is something I have wanted since I was nine years old," she said. "I want to be on that field trying to win a gold medal. This is another step toward that goal. I want to put on that jersey and represent the United States."Klingenberg has played at Wembley Stadium before, so she will not be intimidated by the size of the stage — rather, she is looking forward to the intensity of the practices."The coaching staff does a great job and they challenge us," Klingenberg said. "There are no off days. We know we will be ready to play against the best competition."The Olympics are the biggest stage in soccer, but Klingenberg is no stranger success.A former WPIAL and PIAA champion, she helped the University of North Carolina to a pair of national championships. Klingenberg also is a U-20 Women's World Cup Champion (2008) and played on the U.S. Women's National team.Before she embarks on her Olympic journey, Klingenberg will host a soccer camp for aspiring players from July 6 through 8 at the Dick's Sportsplex at Graham Park.The Friday session runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. It is a panel discussion open to all ages. The Saturday session runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for players ages 11-14. At 4:30 p.m., a session for players ages 15-18 begins, which will run until 8:30 p.m. The Sunday session goes from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for the 11- 14-year-olds, and the 1 to 5 p.m. session again will be for the 15-18 year-olds.Topics covered will be striking, leadership and nutrition, plus sports psychologist Dr. Tiffany R. Jones and certified strength and conditioning coach Erin Mlkula will be on hand to work with the players.The cost of the camp is $250, and is due by June 25.Visit www.mksoccercamp.come for details.The entry fee includes a T-shirt, sports drinks and the special topic sessions."Pittsburgh has given me a lot," Klingenberg said. "I want to give back and give girls experience in soccer. Pittsburgh does not have female role models within soccer."This is my vision, and I think it will be pretty cool."

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