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US-born Jessica Osborne chases dream of playing for England

(Courtesy of Jessica Osborne)

Jessica Osborne is a typical American teenager.

Osborne is active on social media with TikTok and Instagram accounts. One Direction songs dominate her playlist.

But inside this All-American girl beats the heart of a lion — Three Lions, in fact.

Despite being born in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina, Osborne’s childhood has had a distinctive English flavor to it. The daughter of English parents, Osborne grew up watching the English Premier League with hopes of one day representing her mother and father’s country and wearing the nation’s trademark Three Lions logo.

The Pinewood Prep School (Summerville, S.C.) defender’s dream became a reality this March when she played for England’s U-17 women’s national soccer team in the UEFA Euro qualifying tournament.

Osborne was eligible for the opportunity because her parents, Andrew and Gail, are originally from England. Andrew, 57, had been a striker in Nottingham Forest F.C.’s youth academy program during the late 1970s, while Gail has coached high school soccer in South Carolina since 2005.

“Soccer has always been in Jessica’s blood,” said Gail Osborne, also the head girls’ soccer coach at Pinewood Prep. “Jessica grew up around the game. Her brother played, so she was always going to his games. Obviously, she would love the opportunity to play for the U.S. if that opportunity ever came up, but for some reason playing for the Three Lions has always been her goal.”

“When I was walking through the airports with the English warm-up suits on, with the Three Lions on it, it was like a dream come true for me,” said Osborne, who has verbally committed to play for Auburn beginning in the fall of 2023. “It was surreal. It was so amazing. It’s something I know I’ll never forget. To have the opportunity to play against the best players from every country in Europe was special and I learned a lot, on and off the field.”

In February, the junior got a call from the English coaching staff inviting her for a tryout across the pond. She spent five days competing against the best players from England.

With her fearless style of play, Osborne quickly earned the respect of the English coaching staff and her new teammates.

“They were at the end of their playing cycle, so the team had been together for about a year,” said Osborne, who led Pinewood Prep to the 2021 SCISA state title. “At first, I’m sure they were like, ‘Who is this American girl?’ But by the end of the week, they had welcomed me, and I felt like I was part of their family. I made some really good friends when I was over there.”

Her new English teammates were eager to hear about all things American.

“The English girls were asking her about American slang and jargon,” Gail said. “They exchanged playlists. They were looking at her Instagram account and realizing she lived near the beach. They thought Jessica was so lucky because it’s so warm in Charleston.”

Osborne had previously been to England a handful of times with her parents, visiting relatives and seeing the sights around London. This was more of a business trip. After breaking camp with the team and earning one of 20 spots on the final roster, Osborne flew to Krakow, Poland for international play. It was a tense period as Russia had just invaded Ukraine, which shares a border with Poland.

“I won’t lie, it was kind of scary just thinking about it, but the English coaches did a great job of making us feel very safe,” Osborne said. “We were in our own little bubble and just focused on playing soccer.”

Osborne made an immediate impact on the Three Lions, starting two matches and appearing in another game. England went 2-1 in the qualifier, beating Poland and Croatia, but fell to France and failed to advance to the next round of play this summer.

Osborne said the international style of play, vastly different from anything she has experienced in the United States, made her a better player.

“It’s much more physical and a lot faster,” Osborne said. “It’s very demanding physically and mentally. In addition to the training and games, we spent a lot of time in the classroom between matches, breaking down film and making sure we all were on the same page.”

Osborne, who won a second straight SCISA 3A state title with Pinewood Prep earlier this month, has already been invited back to the English U-18 team for the next cycle, which will take place either this summer or in September.

Andrew Miller has covered high school sports since 1982. Before joining The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier in 1989, he graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in journalism. 

Midge Purce-Backed Docuseries ‘The Offseason’ to Drop This Summer

cast of the offseason nwsl reality series
'The Offseason' follows a group of NWSL stars as they prepare for preseason play. (The Offseason)

The Offseason, a reality series created by Gotham and USWNT star Midge Purce, has officially confirmed its streaming debut, Purce announced in Cannes on Tuesday.

The six-episode, half-hour docuseries will stream this summer on X, though a specific premiere date hasn't yet been set.

The Offseason was filmed in Miami, two weeks before the NWSL preseason. It's a crucial time for athletes, a period where they prepare to join their respective teams and compete for both starting and roster spots. Production designed all the facilities, bringing in top-tier trainers, masseuses, chefs, and gym equipment to create a high-level training environment, ensuring the players were in peak condition, per the show's release. Throughout filming, athletes lived together in one house — a reality TV conceit rife for entertainment.

The series follows a number of NWSL stars, including Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Maria Sanchez (Houston Dash), Lo’eau LaBonta (Kansas City Current), Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash), Taylor Smith (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Nikki Stanton (OL Reign), Ally Watt (Orlando Pride), Taryn Torres (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Paige Nielsen (Angel City FC), and Ify Onumonu (Utah Royals).

"We wanted to create a series that truly captures the essence of what it means to be a professional athlete," said Purce. "This series has always been about more than just sports — it's about the human experience behind the athlete, as well."

The show promises a behind-the-scenes look at professional women's sports, teasing major life decisions, on-field tensions, and players taking stock of the environments they'll be entering once their preseason trip is over. The series delves into the real-life challenges faced by the athletes, including club trades, contract negotiations, burnout, and the relentless pressure from outsiders commenting on the players' personal lives.

The Offseason's official trailer, released on Tuesday, shows snippets of Hubly contemplating retirement, Sanchez joining the group after signing a high-profile contract, and a healthy amount of banter about on-field achievements.

The spirit of the series is reflected in its producers: Box To Box Films is known for their sports content (Drive to Survive, Break Point, Full Swing), whereas 32 Flavors is the creative force behind Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The series was funded by Seven Seven Six, and executive produced by Purce.

Lilia Vu adds Meijer LPGA Classic to tour wins record

Lilia Vu won in her first tournament in two months. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Lilia Vu won her fifth LPGA Tour event on Sunday, taking home the Meijer LPGA Classic title in her first tournament since March. 

The world No. 2 had been sidelined with a back injury, but returned with a vengeance. She began the day eight shots back of leader Grace Kim, and survived a three-hole playoff against Kim and former champion Lexi Thompson to take the title. 

“I think this is the most meaningful win,” said Vu, “because there was a time two months ago where I was just crying on the range not being sure if I would ever play a tournament again without pain.”

A two-time major champion, Vu hadn’t before won the Meijer LPGA Classic, but a birdie on the third playoff hole helped secure it. She’s now 2-for-3 in LPGA Tour playoffs. 

She said on Sunday that being unable to defend her title at the Chevron Championship was the “breaking point” in her season.

“Not being able to compete there really killed me,” she said. “I feel like I thought I was taking the steps in the right direction, but I’m glad that I was able to take a couple months off and reevaluate my body, let it recover, do what I needed to do to get back out here again.

“And we did the right thing and took two months off. I think it hurt me not to play competitive golf because I literally live for competitive golf, but we did the right thing and that’s why I’m here today.”

Top tennis players pull out of Olympics citing health reasons

Aryna Sabalenka will not play in the Olympics. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka joined a growing list of tennis stars opting out of the Olympics on Monday.

Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion and world No. 3, told reporters in Berlin that she was looking after her health while citing WTA tournament participation requirements. The Belarusian had struggled with a stomach bug during the French Open, where she lost in the semifinals of a major for the first time since 2022. 

“Especially with all the struggles I was having last month, I feel like I need to take care of my health. … It’s too much with the scheduling,” Sabalenka said. “It’s just too much. I made the decision to take care of my health.”

Similarly, Jabeur cited the health risks that come with the change of surface. The world No. 10 has been battling knee injuries this season, and lost in the French Open quarterfinals to Coco Gauff. 

Players will spend the next few weeks playing on grass in the lead-up to Wimbledon, while the Olympics will be played at Roland-Garros and be held on clay. 

“After consulting with my medical team regarding attending the Olympics in Paris, we have decided that the quick change of surface and the body’s adaptation required would put my knee at risk and jeopardize the rest of my season,” Jabeur posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics. I have always loved representing my country in any competition, However, I must listen to my body and follow my medical team’s advice.”

The two join Emma Raducanu in opting out of the Olympics. Raducanu – who has dealt with a number of injuries since her US Open win in 2021 – cited the changing surface as “not worth the risk.”

Jaedyn Shaw Breaks NWSL Record for Most Goals Scored as a Teenager

Jaedyn Shaw of the san diego wave
Jaedyn Shaw is now holds the record for most NWSL goals as a teenager. (Julia Kapros-USA TODAY Sports)

Jaedyn Shaw continues to make NWSL history, surpassing Trinity Rodman for the most NWSL goals by a teenager on Saturday. 

She did it in a game against Rodman's Washington Spirit in the 20th minute of the 1-1 draw. It brings her total to 13 league goals, after making her NWSL debut at 17 years old in July 2022. 

The goal is her third this season. Shaw currently leads Wave alongside Makenzy Doniak. 

Shaw has also been a member of the USWNT, alongside Rodman, netting seven goals over 14 national team appearances. If she gets called up to this summer’s Olympics under Emma Hayes, it will mark her first official tournament with the USWNT.

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