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Rose remembers U.S. team

Cougar star has fond memories but no regrets about leaving

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Aleisha Cramer Rose has received many accolades during her soccer career.

Of all the honors she has garnered, though, none was greater than when she earned an invitation to play as a member of the United States Women's National Team.

In that capacity, Rose traveled the world, visiting such places as China, Iceland, Norway, Italy and Australia. While touring the world, Rose got to know firsthand the likes of Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain.

Though no longer a member of the U.S. team, the BYU soccer standout will never forget the experiences she had while competing on the international level.

So when the announcement was made that her former teammates were going to be in Salt Lake for an exhibition game against Ireland, there was no one more thrilled than Rose.

"I am excited to watch them play," Rose said. "It will be a lot of fun because you know everyone."

Not only does Rose know everyone on the national team, but she also knows why the national team has been so successful over the years in winning two World Cups.

"They are always willing to help each other, and they have that friendship and team mentality," Rose said. "They are very dedicated and committed. Their work ethic is really amazing."

Rose first began her national experience playing for the Under-15 U.S. team. When she was 16 in 1998, she received her first call to play with Hamm and company, making her the third youngest to ever play for the national team.

Rose competed at the national level from 1998-2002, making 19 appearances with the full U.S. team.

"I just remember being so nervous," Rose said on being called up to play for the national team. "I was like in turbo mode the whole time. I had so much energy and had butterflies like I never had before."

The butterflies and the nervousness of playing at the elite level didn't last long.

"I wasn't just satisfied with making it," Rose said. "You are definitely intimidated a little, but once you start playing with them, you are just another teammate making each other better."

One player who made a lasting impact with Rose was Foudy.

"I remember her especially," Rose said. "During the games, she would always come up to me and say, 'Hey, Cramer, are you all right?' She was like the perfect teammate. She was a good leader and a good friend and example. We played the same position, and I always looked up to her.

"I felt like she was my big sister. I admire her a lot. She was always making me laugh. She was someone I could talk to. It was more than just soccer with her."

What impressed Rose the most about her teammates was how every player acted off the field.

"Off the field, they are nice people," Rose said. "I learned so much from them. They are not just great soccer players. That's what makes it cool; they are famous people but they are good people."

The player Rose says she has kept in contact with the most since leaving the team is mid-fielder Aly Wagner. The two still talk once or twice a month.

"She's a good friend," Wagner said of Rose. "When we talk, it is like we haven't lost any time. We pick up right where we left off."

Her first encounter with Hamm was when she played for the under 16 national team. During a training session at the Olympic training center, they split up the national team and the U-16 team for a scrimmage.

"I think she was on my team," Rose said. "When I played against her I was like 'Oh, man. I better play good.' You play harder than ever. You want to make sure you don't get embarrassed."

Another memory that stands out for Rose was when she was able to play in front of her BYU teammates in Chicago against Germany right before the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.

With the World Cup nearing and the Olympics next year, Rose says she has no regrets about her decision to step away from the top level of women's soccer.

"I was burnt out," Rose said. "I feel more comfortable with what I am doing now. I miss it for sure, but I am excited where the direction of my life is going. When I see them play, I get a little frustrated, but I definitely know I made the right choice."