A longtime fan of US Women's National Team midfielder and Universal Soccer Academy veteran, Carli Lloyd, Laylla learned about James Galanis (President and Director of Universal Soccer Academy) through Carli's posts on social media.
quickly realized if she
wanted to be the best, she
needed to train with the best.
"I'm a big fan of Carli's and I've always followed her
on social media.
The more I saw her
play, the more I wanted to be as good as her
someday," admits the business major from Ouro Branco, Brazil.
"I did some research and came across James'
I learned that Carli has been training with him at Universal Soccer Academy
for the past 10 years.
I knew then that I needed to train with him.
I reached out but didn't really expect a response."
Before long, James
replied to Laylla's request and the two formed an instant friendship.
Despite a distance of over 4,000 miles, James
was able to help prepare Laylla for her
first ever appearance with the Brazilian National Team last November.
"We would talk on the phone every night after my training with the full team," Laylla recalls.
"I would tell him what we worked on that day and he
would tell me what I needed to do to stay sharp.
really focused on my mental preparation, as well as fitness and nutrition, which was new for me."
Known for his
commitment to building well-rounded athletes, James' core curriculum is centered on improving his
students' technical skills, tactical awareness, physical power, mental toughness, and character.
was about to face the biggest game of her
decided to focus on building Laylla's self-confidence and mental toughness.
According to James
, "The mental part of the game is everything.
"I remember thinking to myself, 'I've learned more in 2 days here than I have in my whole life!' I was surprised how much I was learning from James
Most of the time you see coaches give direction and then let you run drills, but not James
there to give tips every step of the way."
"Our goal for Laylla during her
first week at Universal was to feed her
with as much information as possible about the habits of a champion athlete," noted James
"I see a lot of passion and potential in Laylla-she's loaded with exceptional ball handling skills and mature tactical awareness.
I really wanted her
to see that playing at a world class level requires a plan, hard work, and sacrifice."
While spending a winter break running two-a-day training sessions with one of the premier soccer coaches in the women's game may not sound like a vacation to some people, Laylla can't wait for more.
"I had so much fun training with James
in New Jersey this week," she
"The facility is so nice and everyone was so friendly.
I can't wait to come back this summer and continue to hone my skills so I can work on being the world class player James
tells me I can be."