Staci Wilson, TJ ’94, was an All-American soccer player for TJ’s girls’ varsity soccer team, which she helped lead to its first conference championship. This past January, in recognition of an amazing career that began on the fields of Northern Virginia, Wilson was inducted into the Virginia/DC Soccer Hall of Fame. However, Wilson is more than a local hero. In the March 2014 inaugural edition of their online publication, “Our Game, Our Stories,” the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) introduced her as “among the most celebrated players in women’s soccer history.”
After graduating from TJ, Wilson headed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a three-time All-American and 1994 National Freshman Player of the Year. She helped the Tarheels win three national championships during her four years on the team, and in her honor the team retired her #27 jersey. Wilson played with Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain on the USA Women’s National Team that won the gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and played two seasons of professional soccer with the Carolina Courage, helping them win the National Championship in 2002.
After a decade of coaching in youth leagues and at the college level, Wilson founded In Balance Training Inc. near her home in South Florida. In business for five years, her company offers camps, fitness and nutrition programs, and individual and team training, specializing in the unique needs of female players. With a BA in Exercise Physiology, certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, and weightlifting, and a Class B license from the USSF, she is able to apply both knowledge and experience to her programs. She takes particular pride in training players to develop the athletic skills that will keep them fit and injury-free.
Wilson also volunteers with USSF’s Soccer for Success after-school program that uses soccer to promote healthy lifestyles for children in less fortunate communities. She bemoans the lack of access to equipment, facilities, and training expertise faced by kids in these communities, saying “Those who do not have certain resources available (e.g., field space) do not have the same access to the sport of soccer.”
A standout on her Reston-based travel team, Wilson chose to attend TJ “because [her] parents always emphasized the value of education, and that it should come before sports,” she explained. Although she could have taken her talents to better teams, she never looked back. “I enjoyed wonderful years at TJ and am proud that it has remained so highly regarded. It was the perfect place to complement my specialization in the sport of soccer,” she continued. “I truly liked the diverse group of talented and intelligent kids that TJ attracted. The one-hour bus trip was filled with lively conversation on sports, religion, family life, math, etc. I had excellent teachers and driven peers that taught and inspired me not only to compete at a high level but to take my passion to its highest potential. ”
Alumni Network Scores a Goal
Wilson couldn’t resist contributing a little alumni news of her own. She and classmate Brian Suskiewicz, TJ ’94, had not seen each other since their TJ days when they traveled together this past December as coaches for Coaches Across Continents (CAC), a global program that uses sports to focuses on local social issues such as gender equity, conflict resolution, and health and wellness. Suskiewicz played for TJ’s boys’ varsity soccer team before receiving his BA and MA from Boston College, where he was a four-year letter winner for the 1995 Big East champion Eagles. Suskiewicz, who returned to coach TJ’s varsity boys’ team in 2000 and was a successful college soccer coach for eleven years, is now Chief Executive Strategist for CAC. The two subsequently ran into each other again when they both made presentations at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Annual Convention in January, he on CAC and she on soccer biomechanics.
“I look forward to seeing Brian and the entire class of 1994 at our 20th reunion this October,” Wilson said.