- LAura Montgomery Rutt
The Pride Soccer Complex where Amara Wilson trains is so far east on Woodmen Road that it escapes the smog of Academy Boulevard and the sawdust-spitting hum of development.
Here in the fresh air, two years' acclimated to Colorado Springs, Wilson runs like she did on Costa Rican beaches as a girl, where she grew up playing soccer with the boys.
Today, Wilson (pictured left) is a forward for the Colorado Springs Sabers, one of the newest teams in the Women's Premier Soccer League, an independent national league that includes some of the best amateur teams in the country. Coach Erik Oman started the team a year ago, recruiting local women as well as national and international players to fill the 25 positions.
Last summer, the Sabers were in an exposition phase playing for practice and publicity. This May, they began their first competitive season, playing against the Denver Diamonds and the Utah Spiders, among others. As of press time, the Sabers were 1-3 hardly unheard of for an expansion team.
"The more you play, the more you learn," says Wilson, 21.
When she graduated from high school, Wilson was recruited by the Costa Rican national team. There, she met Monica Salazar (at right), who joined her in the United States just weeks ago to play as a defender for the Sabers.
This week, Wilson and Salazar pulled on their jerseys and headed to McCabe's Tavern to watch the World Cup with a Colombian friend. Wilson says that Costa Rican soccer is technical, with flourishes and fancy footwork. In the United States, she says, soccer is aggressive and demands a heavy regimen of fitness training.
But at the Pride Soccer Complex, Wilson is all intricacy, moving her feet as if to cut a doily out of the Astroturf and passing the ball with Salazar and teammate Amy Dibb. The three contract and expand again in their own small circle, sneakers cutting the thin air.