Valerie Sue Meyer has spent more hours on soccer fields around the United States than she could ever count, and the blood, sweat and tears have paid off.
Meyer, the top defender in the Sierra League the past two years, signed a national letter of intent with Saint Mary’s College Wednesday morning. The Gaels are a member of the West Coast Conference.
Meyer is the fourth Carson player, at least in the last 12 years, to sign with a Division I school. She follows in the footsteps of Brandi Vega (Washington State), Kenzie Tillitt (Colorado) and Josie Daggs (University of Idaho).
The signing caps a two-year courtship between Meyer and SMC.
Meyer, gave a non-verbal commitment less than a year after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament while playing club soccer back in 2015.
The smallness of SMC, which has just 4,100 students, and small class sizes, were attractive to Meyer.
“As I turned into the campus, the first thing I saw was the chapel,” Meyer said. “It just felt right.
“I met the coach and the team. I want to play for a coach who is going to be honest with you.”
And, Saint Mary’s has a good business department which interests Meyer.
“My dream is to open up a bakery,” Meyer said. “It is a really trendy thing right now.
“I love to bake and I like to eat.”
First, Meyer wants to make a splash in college soccer, and SMC coach Travis Clarke is eagerly awaiting her arrival on campus in August.
“We are excited to have her,” Clarke said. “She has a high athletic ceiling.
“We’ve enjoyed getting to know her during the recruiting process. She is one of the hardest working players in youth soccer. She is always working out doing something to improve herself.”
Some schools understandably bailed on Meyer after her injury in 2015.
“I was playing in a club game, and I remember I was having a really good game,” Meyer said. “I was in total denial after it happened, though.
“After I came off the field, I hobbled over to the coach and told him I wanted to go back in. He told me he wasn’t letting me play until I had a note from the doctor. I told him I’d see him on Tuesday. Needless to say, I didn’t see him Tuesday.”
Meyer worked relentlessly to get back on the field.
Unfortunately, Arizona, Colorado and Washington State, and Grand Canyon opted not to wait for her to get completely healthy.
And, Meyer said she never heard from the University of Nevada.
“I would have liked to have seen some interest from Nevada, but the old coaches (at Nevada) didn’t really recruit local players,” Meyer said. “Before I committed to Saint Mary’s, I was supposed to visit Washington State, Arizona and Grand Canyon. They ended up getting other players.
“It didn’t surprise me. Not everybody comes back from an ACL and gets as strong as they were before.”
Meyer wasn’t at full strength when Saint Mary’s saw her play for the first time, but that didn’t deter Clarke, who knew Meyer’s club coach well.
“I went to nationals (in Seattle), and they saw me play with my club team,” she said. “That was on July 22, and I verbally committed before my junior year.”
“The first time we saw her, she was probably 60 or 70 percent,” Clarke said. “I saw a lot of potential. I was really high on her.”
Meyer said she’s 100 percent healthy, though she said certain cuts make her knee wobble a little bit.
The fact Clarke said he’s running into more and more student-athletes who are making their decisions earlier.
“Whether we like it or not, a lot of the Power 5 schools dictate a lot of early recruiting,” Clarke said. “Bigger schools have started recruiting younger and younger, so we have to start looking at girls earlier.”
How much or where Meyer plays is still up in the air. The Gaels return all four starting defenders from last year’s team that went 5-13-2.
Meyer anchored the Carson defense on the back line during her three-year career at CHS, and she feels that might be her best position.
“Their center backs are about 5-10 and 160,” Meyer said. “I’m 5-7 and 130. I need to build myself up a little bit before I get there. It will be an uphill battle.
“The coach said he’d like to see me improve my decision making; make quicker decisions and stick with them. They want me to keep control and possibly take on a player. My bail out has been to send it to a forward or midfielder and let them deal with it.”
The one thing Meyer does extremely well is communicate and set up the defense in front of her and the keeper.
Clarke said the only place Meyer wouldn’t play is forward. He didn’t rule out the possibility of Meyer playing in the midfield because he likes her athleticism that much.