WWC: Alex Morgan, built for speed?

Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan, who heads into the Women's World Cup this week as a forward for the U.S. women's national team, grew up playing every sport she could. She says she was “always the little speedy one.”

Her pace was her greatest weapon, and she and her father worked on it.

“When I was little, I had a speed coach,” Morgan reports. “I kind of knew early that that was going to be an important part of my game, whether that be soccer or volleyball or basketball or softball. I was always was the little speedy one.

“I was playing that role, and I wanted to work on it as much as I could, having a speed coach and going out there on the field with my dad, and him setting out 40 yards of cones on the sideline, and he'd time me for 10 runs. And that's what we'd do for the day, you know?”

How old was she?

“It started when I was 8 ... but it was fun for me. I loved it. I'm very athletic. I love all kinds of sports, not just soccer. It wasn't like he was forcing me to do it. I wanted to go out there. I'd run around the streets with weights on my ankles. That was fun for me.”

Mike Morgan, her father, winces when he hears her words. “I hope she wasn't 8 when I did that,” he says.

Softball was her primary sport at the time, and he saw a basepath demon, given her speed, and worked to improve that part of her game. It's served her well in soccer.

“We started out with just two 2½-pound weights, on each leg, just make her work for it a little bit,” Mike Morgan says. “As we went on, we were up to 5-pound weights on each leg. … She's very competitive. It's 'OK, OK, let's do this, do that.' She was acceptable to any ideas.”

The U.S. opens WWC group play Tuesday against North Korea. ESPN will televise the game at 8:45 a.m. PT.