BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Freshly crowned Women’s World Cup champion Tobin Heath is a hometown hero in the New Jersey community where she grew up.
A girls’ soccer camp was taking place Tuesday at Tobin Heath Field in Basking Ridge, where a sign calls her a “hometown inspiration.”
The young soccer studs had a little extra pep in their steps knowing that a World Cup champion once played on the same field.
“Tobin Heath once was, like, in our place, going into Ridge, playing soccer. And, like, I play for the same club she did, so it shows how, like, anybody can be exactly like her if you work for it,” 14-year-old Katie Keefe said.
“It’s just very inspiring,” 14-year-old McKenzie Brown said.
Coach Katie Donahue was an assistant coach at Ridge High School when Heath was a player with what she calls “creative flair.”
“Things that you can’t teach, things that you wouldn’t expect to be seen in a game that she would just try. She was fearless. So, it was a lot of fun to watch her because you never knew what you were going to get,” she said.
Most of the girls CBS2’s Meg Baker spoke to at the soccer camp say they admire Heath’s technical skills out on the field.
“She has so good foot skills that she just gets by people so easily,” 8-year-old Elle Lyver said.
Eight-year-old Lily Schweighertt says they work on those same skills at their camp.
“We do a lot of passing and we jog a lot,” she said.
Donahue says the 31-year-old champion has never forgotten her roots, coming back to watch games, sign autographs and dedicate the field.
“I remember when Tobin came and gave the speech. She was a little bit like, ‘Uh, I feel a little weird doing this ’cause that’s normally something you do when someone’s, like, retiring, and I have a lot of soccer left in me,'” Donahue said.
A group of soon-to-be-freshmen say they learned the importance of teamwork by watching the U.S. women.
“Watching all of their Instagram stories and, like, their posts, and, like, how everyone’s like so unified during this time,” 14-year-old Tayler Mark said.
“They have such a good chemistry together and then it, like, shows on the field when they’re playing together,” Keefe said.
Heath played three years at Ridge High School. She took her senior year off for more advance training before attending the University of North Carolina.