A Union girl, and her teammates, had a special Valentine’s Day date with a local sports star.
Sadie Donnelly, 10, and her teammates on the FC Heat soccer team were given a personal training session with Becky Sauerbrunn last Tuesday at Vetta Sports, St. Charles.
Sauerbrunn — a Ladue native and a part of the U.S. women’s national team — held a Valentine’s Day training session contest which offered soccer players ages 7-18 a chance to train with the soccer star.
Those who entered wrote a short essay that described their own signature moves.
Donnelly, who is coached by Union resident Scott Starling, wrote about her “explosive kick,” which she has used to score from center field.
That essay won Donnelly, and the two squads coached by Starling, a two-hour training session with Sauerbrunn. Her essay was chosen among more than 30 others.
Donnelly, a Clark-Vitt Elementary School student, learned that she was the winner following school one day the week prior to the training event. Her mother broke the news after Donnelly got home from school.
“I was screaming really loud and jumping,” Donnelly said.
When her team learned about the training session, Donnelly became a star in their eyes.
“They said, ‘Sadie, the hero is here,’ ” she added. “They all wanted to play with me.”
Sauerbrunn partnered with Signature Medical Group of St. Louis to hold the training. It provided an educational event for the young players.
“We learned that warming up and taking breaks are important,” Donnelly said. “People our age and pros can have bad leg problems.”
Starling said 16 of the 18 girls he coaches were able to take part in the training session. They rode in a Presidential limousine to the facility.
“Becky was awesome,” said Starling. “She was so humble and treated the girls with so much respect.”
He added that the teams, comprised of third- and fourth-graders, were alone with Sauerbrunn in the indoor facility.
“The girls were in awe the entire time,” Starling said. “It was huge for the girls to be able to do that.”
They even played a full scrimmage game during the training.
Along with the training, the girls also got Sauer-brunn’s autograph and had photos taken with the soccer star.
Donnelly had a sock, a jersey, soccer ball and even her arm autographed.
“It is once-in-a-lifetime thing to meet a player like that,” she said. “She was very nice and kind to us.”
Sauerbrunn was a captain for the USA at the U-19 level. She grew up playing soccer and is a graduate of Ladue High School.
She is training at part of the U.S. women’s Olympic soccer team.