By Paul Kurtz and Pat Ciarrocchi
EVESHAM, N.J. (CBS) — U.S. Women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd’s whirlwind victory tour stopped in Evesham, New Jersey on Wednesday, where the World Cup champion received a hero’s welcome.
The township gym, known as the Blue Barn, has been Carli Lloyd’s training facility since 2003. She returned as a hero to hundreds of young summer campers.
“She inspired me to follow my dreams.”
There are dozens of young girls with stars in their eyes, after meeting their hometown soccer hero.
Carli, the World Cup MVP, came to the Evesham Township Recreation Center amid near deafening cheers to learn that the court that felt the sweat of her athletic inspiration, now bears her name.
“Welcome to Carli Lloyd Court.”
Township officials presented Lloyd with a ceremonial key. They also named one of the courts after her.
Carli is a Delran native, who returned to inspire kids at summer camp to work hard and dream big.
“I’ve look at the difficult times and those are the times that have actually shaped me,” Carli said to the children sitting on the gym floor in their soccer uniforms.
The grit of hard play has shaped her too – in a sport where the world is finally taking notice.
“I want to be a good role model, I want to be a good inspiration to them,” Carli said.
“I want to teach them that hard work pays off. You just have to keep grinding away.”
She encouraged the kids to keep following their dreams and to work hard, and that they would be rewarded if they did.
Girls soccer teams came from across Evesham to hear her words, pose for pictures, and absorb the inspiration that might carry them to big victories, not just on the soccer field, but in life too.
“She always goes for it,” said 15-year-old Casey Mansfield. “ She’s not afraid to take risks. She had that half-court shot and just went for it.”
Casey’s friend, Liz Kotch loves Carli too.
“She’s bright and she’s kind and she’ s nice to everyone she meets. She’ s always happy and smiling.”
While Hailey Jackson was nearly breathless, her heart beating hard. “It was amazing. My hands are shaking.”
Over 12 years, Carli trained amid the shifting sands of self-doubt. She said her mental and physical preparation helped her overcome obstacles.
“I want to continue to do this. I’ve set the bar really high to get better and better. And there is a lot of room for improvement.”
With her performance, that’s hard to believe.
Her Houston team has a game in New York on Saturday. Then in August, the World Cup Champions will be on a 10-game national celebration tour.