Aug. 11, 2017
By Brad Muller | More Features
Savannah McCaskill hasn't exactly been taking it easy in the offseason. After a record-breaking junior season in 2016 in which she helped lead South Carolina to the SEC Championship, 21-2-1 overall record, and second trip to the NCAA Elite Eight in the last three years, McCaskill has been off and running thanks to several stints with U.S. U-23 squad and the U.S. Women's National Team.
"Playing with extremely high caliber players for two weeks at a time is huge because you see all levels of talent," McCaskill said. "You're playing with some of the best players in the country. Being in that environment, if there's something I learned there, I can bring it back here and hopefully help the team reach new levels of play."
"Shelley and Jamie make sure that practice each and every day is competitive," McCaskill said. "This team is always competitive, whether we're doing fun boxes, scrimmaging, or inner-squad. It's a very competitive environment to be in. That sets you up for national team level because every session is competitive, and you're fighting for a spot on the roster and a starting spot. Being here has helped me prepare for the national team environment."
"Just to see what her growth has been and the opportunities that have opened for her with the national program, we couldn't be more proud," Shelley Smith said. "We're definitely going to rely on her to lead this group. She is going to be a threat on the field anytime she is out there. She also is doing more and more as a senior leader to bring the players along and make the players around her better."
The national anthem is playing with your hand over your heart; that's a special feeling.
Last fall, McCaskill set South Carolina season records for points (45) and goals (17) on the way to SEC Offensive Player of the Year and NSCAA First Team All-America honors. She carried that momentum into her experience with the U.S. teams and was called into the U.S. Women's National Team's January camp. She scored a goal in her debut for the U-23 squad in March in the team's first match at the La Manga Tournament in Spain. She scored again in the team's match against the NWSL's Houston Dash at the Thorns Spring Invitational in Portland, Oregon, and also traveled with the team to play another tournament in Sweden.
"The international trips are a lot of fun," McCaskill said. "You go overseas, and you get to wear the crest. It's kind of a big thing because you're outside the country just walking around wearing Team USA stuff, and being able play against other countries while representing your country is a special feeling that you can't duplicate. There is nothing like walking around the field. The national anthem is playing with your hand over your heart; that's a special feeling. So the international trips mean a lot."
No matter how many times she does it, McCaskill noted that putting on the U.S.A. jersey never gets old.
"That feeling never goes away," McCaskill said. "The first time it's like `wow!' You don't really absorb it until after the fact. My first camp was a domestic camp out in California, and that was cool. I got in with the full team for a little while, which was really special. With the first international trip, stepping on to the field and staring that first game against Japan, I had that feeling of `oh wow, I'm outside of my country, and I'm representing my country.' It was a huge honor."
Now that she's back home preparing with the Gamecocks for her senior season, McCaskill is excited to be back with her teammates and hopes to make more history in 2017.
"They're all really supportive," McCaskill said. "I know I missed a ton training [with South Carolina] in the spring, but they're all very understanding. This team is just amazing."
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