Feb. 12, 2018
By Brad Muller | More Features
Elexa Bahr is living out a lot childhood dreams, and the 19-year-old with citizenship in United States, Colombia, and Honduras has traveled the Americas to play soccer. Bahr enjoyed a breakout sophomore season last fall, helping the South Carolina women’s soccer team win its second straight Southeastern Conference Championship and reach the College Cup semifinals for the first time in program history. Then she left on Christmas day to participate in the Colombian U-20 National Team’s camp.
“The experience was great, but I will say that playing at altitude really got me,” Bahr said of Bogota’s 8,600 feet elevation. “It’s so high over there! The girls were great, and I was so excited to play with them.
“It was so different. I grew up very humble. Colombia is not one of the poorest countries, but it’s not like the U.S. It was great experiencing a different lifestyle. The food was amazing! I was so grateful to be there.”
Born in Atlanta, Bahr graduated from Buford High School in Georgia. She previously enjoyed international soccer experience as a member of the Honduran U-20 National Team for the 2015 World Cup Pre-Qualifier games. Her father, Alex, is originally from Honduras and played professionally there and in the United States, while her mother, Vickie, has family hailing from Colombia. The opportunity to play for any country is something that Bahr takes seriously.
“A national team represents a whole country, and that’s just a privilege itself,” Bahr said. “I’m so happy that I have a chance to represent Colombia right now. That’s a dream come true. “My dad has had so much of an impact on my soccer career. I look up to what he says. I play for myself and my team, but I also play for him because of his experience. He knows a lot about the game. He’s one of the people I most look up to.”
It’s any girl’s dream to play with the U.S. National Team, but it’s a privilege to play with any national team, no matter if it’s the U.S., Honduras, or Colombia.
After scoring one goal as a reserve during her freshman season in 2016, Bahr soared in 2017, scoring 8 goals, which was tied with All-American Savannah McCaskill for the team lead, and ranked second on the team with 17 points. She credits the coaching staff, including head coach Shelley Smith and associate head coach Jamie Smith with fueling her development.
“I had more confidence in myself this year,” Bahr said. “Jamie and Shelley told me I needed to fill in for some big roles. I’d like to think I’m one of those people that can take an opportunity and run with it, and I guess I did. Hopefully next year will be the same.
“Last summer, Jamie put me in groups with Savannah (McCaskill) and Lindsey (Lane), and they just pushed me. Shelley helped me mentally. The whole staff has helped me to be the best I could be. I hope it shows next year and the year after that.”
“This year she prepared a lot better for everything; physically and mentally,” said Shelley Smith. “She earned a starting role and really lived up to the expectations put on her as a starter. She embraced her role and really played to her abilities.”
Bahr looks to bring some of the skills she learned with the Colombian team back to South Carolina.
“I had the chance to see a lot of different styles of play,” Bahr said. “Hopefully I can bring it back here to the Gamecocks, and show them what I learned.
“I was playing with a lot of girls in Colombia who were good enough to play at the (NCAA) D-1 and D-2 level. Everyone was so technical with the ball. They could juke you and all of the sudden score a goal, and you don’t know what happened.”
With the graduation of impact players such as McCaskill, Dominique Babbitt, Anna Conklin, and Lindsey Lane, among others, Bahr has higher expectations for herself next year, but the pressure to perform isn’t coming from the coaches.
“If there is any pressure, it’s from me putting pressure on myself,” Bahr said. “We’ve got [Luciana Zullo], Ryan (Gareis), Simone (Wark), and a lot of others coming back, and we have new freshmen. If there were pressure, I’d be putting it on myself and pushing other players to be the best they can be.”
“You see her already wanting to lead, on and off the field, which is really great for coaches to see,” Smith added. “I would expect her to take on more of leadership role by pushing others and pushing herself and stepping up when the pressure is on. Getting the chance to play internationally is just going to help her confidence even more.”
In the meantime, Bahr hopes to be getting called back to play with Colombian National Team for future tournaments, and she would love to play in the Olympics someday. That’s not to say she wouldn’t mind getting a call from the U.S. Women’s National Team either.
“That’ll be a bridge I cross if it comes,” Bahr laughed. “I have no idea what’s going to happen. For now, I’m going to take any opportunity with Colombia and run with it. I want to do all that I can do.
“It’s any girl’s dream to play with the U.S. National Team, but it’s a privilege to play with any national team, no matter if it’s the U.S., Honduras, or Colombia.”
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