Parkhill redshirts to play abroad

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Paul Bangasser

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Speaking the local language may be the most difficult part of international travel, but Cat Parkhill only has to remember one word âÄî fútbol. The redshirted freshman was recently named to the U.S. WomenâÄôs Under-20 team. She will compete with the team internationally for the next few weeks before traveling to Chile to compete in the 2008 FIFA U-20 WomenâÄôs World Cup. âÄúI didnâÄôt come in with any expectations,âÄù Parkhill said. âÄúItâÄôs unreal; IâÄôm excited.âÄù The Apple Valley native began playing on a traveling recreational team at 11, later trying out for and making MinnesotaâÄôs Olympic Development Program. At that point, Parkhill was torn between soccer and pursing other sports, but her experience with the development program made her realize her potential on the field, she said. âÄúMy coaches said I had a great future ahead of me and thatâÄôs just kind of when it started up,âÄù Parkhill said. âÄúI started having to drop sports just to stay committed to soccer.âÄù As a freshman in high school Parkhill split time between the U.S. U-15 GirlâÄôs National Team and Eastview High SchoolâÄôs freshman soccer team. She entered the Gophers squad with plenty of enthusiasm. âÄúItâÄôs an absolutely fantastic environment,âÄù she said. âÄúI absolutely love it here.âÄù The decision to redshirt Parkhill came early in the season. The Gophers coaches knew she was pursuing a spot on the U-20 team, Gophers assistant coach Jarrod Roh said. âÄúThis was going to be the most healthy thing for Cat,âÄù Roh said. Parkhill attended tryouts in both New Jersey and in Sunrise, Fla., in July and September, respectively. In Florida, most of the women at tryouts had already made the team, creating a stressful environment, she said. âÄúIt was intense,âÄù she said. âÄúI was feeling this rush of emotion. I never thought I was going to get the opportunity to [play], especially at this time.âÄù Parkhill said she went into the tryouts with nothing to lose and came out with the 20th spot on the U-20 roster. She learned of the selection on in Florida on Sept. 27. She immediately began calling family members, she said, and after six attempts, was able to get a hold of her grandmother. âÄúIt was such a great moment to call them on the phone,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs just a feeling IâÄôve never felt before. It was quite the emotional high.âÄù Roh said ParkhillâÄôs courage, and motivation set her apart from other players he has coached. âÄúItâÄôs great to see her get the reward that she wanted,âÄù he said. âÄúNow itâÄôs time for her to dial in again and move onto the next stage, which is preparing for the World Cup and battling the other two goalkeepers that have been named for playing time.âÄù Parkhill will head to the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and later to the Nike Headquarters in Portland before beginning to play abroad. The World Cup will take place in Chile. Parkhill has played internationally on several occasions while competing with previous national teams, and itâÄôs an experience she said she relishes. âÄúBeing able to travel around the world is just âĦ itâÄôs an eye opener,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs also an eye opener to how different cultures are. ItâÄôs very important.âÄù In the past, Parkhill has played in many countries, including England, Germany, Holland, Spain and Argentina. However, this is the first time she has traveled to Chile, and though she hopes to do some sightseeing. âÄúOnce you get to the place youâÄôre going to be at, thatâÄôs when you start to really understand the culture,âÄù she said. âÄúWhen you immerse yourself is the best time to really understand whatâÄôs going on in their culture.âÄù After the tournament is completed, Parkhill will return to Minnesota and practice with the Gophers, hopefully competing in some spring games. âÄúWith [the Gophers] I want to bring it as far as I can, hopefully win a Big Ten tournament.âÄù She said she hopes to continue her career with the national team, someday competing with the full womenâÄôs team. âÄúHopefully this will just be a catalyst,âÄù Parkhill said. âÄúItâÄôs something IâÄôve been waiting for.âÄù