July 12, 2018
By Brad Muller | More Features
Grace Fisk has put together an impressive college and international resume in a short time, but South Carolina’s rising junior defender from England was able to check off a big item from her bucket list after attending the World Cup in Russia last month. Fisk, who is the captain of England’s U-20 national team, was invited to a FIFA leadership workshop there along with the captains from other nations who will be competing in the U-20 World Cup in France this August.
“When I found out, I thought, ‘Heck yeah, I’ll go!’” Fisk said. “My coach from England told me about it, and it’s the first year they’ve ever done it. The whole thing was so cool. I never thought I would go to Russia.
“I was a little nervous about going to Russia before we left. It was so much better than I thought it was going to be. The Russian people were so welcoming, and the whole FIFA experience was very cool as well. It was one of the best experiences of my life.”
Fisk looks to build on a spectacular first season with the Gamecocks after earning first team All-America, first team All-SEC, and SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors last year while helping South Carolina reach the College Cup for the first time in program history. Having also played in many places around the globe as member of England’s U-15, U-17, U-18, U-19 and U-20 teams during her career, the opportunity to not only visit Russia, but also attend a World Cup match was one of many highlights of the trip.
“We went to the Brazil versus Serbia match there in Moscow,” Fisk said. “It was so cool. When you got in the stadium, you can spot the Brazilian fans anywhere with their bright yellow shirts. There were more Brazilian fans than Serbian, and they were just going crazy; singing and dancing the whole time. It was an amazing atmosphere. I’ve been to a couple of Premier League games, but this was a completely different atmosphere. There were lots of chants and singing.”
You don’t have to be yelling all the time or be the fastest player to be a leader. Everyone can have their own style of leadership.
Perhaps her one regret was being unable to watch England against Belgium while she was there since that match was played in a different city.
“The hotel we stayed at was only 10 miles from the stadium we went to for Brazil versus Serbia, but it took us two and a half hours to get there because the traffic was so bad,” Fisk said. “The amount of people was just crazy.”
Fisk noted that the leadership seminar was also a memorable experience.
“It was called ‘Captains of Today; Leaders of Tomorrow,’” Fisk said. “There were 14 of the 16 (U-20) World Cup team captains there. It was great because you don’t really get training on how to be a captain, so this helped in getting a lot of tips and experience from people who have been in that position. I think the coolest part was just getting to mix with the other teams because usually they’re the ‘enemy,’ and you don’t really talk to them. It was great to get to know them and learn how they do things.
“You don’t have to be yelling all the time or be the fastest player to be a leader. Everyone can have their own style of leadership. That’s one of the biggest things I took away.”
Fisk and her colleagues were able to do some sightseeing as well, visiting the Kremlin and Red Square.
“When we visited Red Square, (Russian President) Vladimir Putin was playing soccer in the Fan Zone, literally about 100 feet from us,” Fisk said. “We didn’t know about it until we saw it on TV later.”
After returning to Columbia from Moscow to meet with her South Carolina teammates, including a new group of freshmen, Fisk will be heading back overseas again to prepare for the U-20 World Cup.
“We qualified for it at this time last year, so now that it’s finally here, I’m so excited for it,” Fisk said.
Fisk will play a big role for the Gamecocks again 2018 and was named as the team’s captain by her teammates.
“I’m really excited about our team,” Fisk said. “It’s really nice to be chosen by your teammates. It means a lot that they’re putting their trust in me to lead the team. It won’t just be me though. There are other leaders in my class and other classes as well. It will be nice to get back and be in one place for a while!”
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