Meghan Klingenberg, a Pine-Richland High School graduate who is playing for the University of North Carolina women's soccer team, is an alternate for the U.S. Olympic soccer team.
By Brandon Boyd Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Meghan Klingenberg's Olympic accomplishment has an "Inception" feel to it: a dream within a dream.
Klingenberg, a 2007 graduate of Pine-Richland High School and former WPIAL and PIAA champion, was named an alternate for the U.S. women's Olympic soccer team.
Making the team as an alternate, she said, is an outstanding accomplishment for her and part of her Olympic dream, but she added that she has not reached the apex of it.
"It's not where I ultimately want to be. I want to be on the roster and gearing up to start for my country," she said. "But for right now, it's a special thing."
Klingenberg said she was still surprised at receiving word that she had made the team as an alternate.
"I was shocked, actually," she said. "I knew that everyone at camp was fighting for a spot but I didn't think that I actually had a chance to make the 18 + 4 roster. After that subsided, I was overjoyed because I realized that this was an incredible opportunity to represent my country, my family and myself to the best of my ability."
Klingenberg has proven her ability on local and national levels. She was the captain of the Pine-Richland team and led it to a PIAA championship in 2005. She was selected as a Parade magazine high school All-American as a senior and chose to attend the University of North Carolina. There, she played 94 games in her career, scoring 18 goals and adding 24 assists.
In her senior year, she was named an All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and was first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference.
After graduating from college, she was picked third overall in the Women's Professional Soccer draft by the magicJack team and eventually was traded to the Boston Breakers, before the league folded. She has played for the U.S. national team at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels.
Klingenberg will be at this Olympics ready to go. She practices with the team, but will be in the crowd for the Games. She will play in the Olympics only if one of her teammates gets injured.
"I think bittersweet is an apt word choice," she said. "I've spent a year and a half of my life training and living with these girls. They have become my friends and I would never wish them ill. That being said, it is still important that as an alternate I'm ready for any circumstances. Unfortunate things do happen and we have to be prepared to step in."
Klingenberg said she will attempt to make the team again for the 2016 Olympics.
"Making an Olympic roster is never easy," she said. "Just because I'm close this time definitely does not mean that I'll just step up into that spot next time around. I think that for me to be in contention for a spot next time I have to find a good club to play at with an incredibly high level and I'm going to have to out-train everyone that is going this year and the youngsters coming up."
If she can do that, four years from now she will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on the roster for the U.S. Olympic soccer team.
For now, being named an alternate is the start of working toward that dream.