Laura Rayfield and Laura Moore love singing together.
Let’s be more specific -- they love singing Glee songs.
Rayfield and Moore carpool to practices and games together for Crossfire Premier, a top-level club based in Redmond, Wash. They both live in Kent, Wash., more than an hour from the Crossfire training and game fields. They make the trip together multiple times a week.
“It’s nice having someone else in the car with you,” Rayfield says. “We talk, gossip, sing and just have a good time.”
The two Lauras attend rival high schools and have committed to different universities for next year. But twice a week when they make the trip to practice, that all seems to fade away. What matters is their friendship, their love for the game and their desire to play for the top club team in the state.
“You want to play with the best so that you compete with the top athletes in the state and in your age group,” Rayfield says. “Crossfire is the best around, so that’s why I chose to do to the commute to play for them.”
Rayfield has been playing for Crossfire for nine years now, and has commuted over an hour each way for practices and games throughout that time. She says it’s just something she’s grown used to.
“Crossfire gives me a lot more opportunities, and you’re able to get a lot more exposure,” she says. The recent move to the ECNL has only increased those opportunities. “The environment is way more competitive."
Because of the success of Crossfire, it draws from all across the state of Washington. The Pacific Northwest -- whose MLS teams are known for having some of the most passionate soccer fans in America -- is largely void of nationally recognized youth soccer clubs. Crossfire is one of two in the Evergreen State; rival Washington Premier sits about 45 minutes south.
But beyond those two, the nearest ECNL club is more than 700 miles away. Hence, top athletes come from miles around to play in Redmond.
Lindsay Burns travels from Yakima, Wash., a valley town about two and a half hours southeast of the Crossfire training grounds. Her mother, Martha, says they travel 150 miles each way to get Lindsay to and from practice, along a highway that includes passing through the Cascade Mountains.
“The travel time is extreme,” says Martha, “but it’s just what we have to do.”
Crossfire’s success attracted Lindsay to make the move after she had played for a local club in Yakima for nine years. The Burns family started making the drive during her sophomore year, largely because Crossfire competes in the highly competitive ECNL.
Within six months, it paid off. Lindsay has verbally committed to play for Baylor in 2013.
“We feel very lucky to have the opportunity to travel and play with them, even though it is difficult,” says Martha. “It’s been everything we’ve hoped it would be.”
Lindsay’s U17 team is the defending Washington State Cup champions. Rayfield and Moore’s U18 squad currently sits in second place in the ECNL Northwest Conference. They both have a long line of college commitments to go with it.
And Rayfield says that this kind of success is really what drives her to, well, drive.
“It makes it all worth it.”