Pete Knezic has played or coached soccer nearly his entire life. But even as a former college All-American and professional soccer player, the Wisconsin Soccer Hall of Famer didn't have an opportunity like Sydney Halstead is about to experience.
Each year, Adidas youth soccer clubs like the Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club can nominate one male and one female to participate in the Generation Adidas International Select Program.
It didn't take Knezic long to settle on Halstead, who will have the unique opportunity to train with Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon, France, one of the top soccer clubs in the world.
"Sydney really stands out as far as having a great attitude," Knezic said. "She's never given anything less than 100 percent in pushing herself. She's always listening and doing whatever it takes to not only make herself better but to make the team better."
The Wauwatosa East midfielder will depart for France on Aug. 12 for a mix of training, international friendly matches and sightseeing before returning Aug. 20.
One of 32 girls players selected following the nomination process, Halstead will have seven nights accommodation and full room and board at no cost.
The athletes will have five training sessions at the Olympique Lyonnais training complex and two international friendly matches against French teams.
"I am looking forward to going to Lyon and being able to meet and play soccer with a group of girls from across the country that I have never met," Halstead said. "Playing with and against these girls from across the country and receiving professional coaching will allow me to strengthen my skills, improve my technique and learn new strategies to become a better player."
In addition to the soccer experience, Halstead and her teammates will receive a guided tour of Lyon, which includes Vieux Lyon, the Lyon Cathedral and Jean Baptiste, Basilica de Fourviere, the Roman ruins and Theatre Romain.
The trip will conclude with the participants taking in a Ligue 1 match between Olympique Lyonnais and FC Girondins de Bordeaux.
"I'm jealous," Knezic said. "You are going to be a junior in high school and are going to a camp in Lyon, France. Most kids that love soccer would die for an opportunity like this.
"It is really a soccer player's dream to have a trip like this where you are going to another country and being trained by top-notch coaches. A lot of the kids do college camps and things like that where they try to get exposed to some of the colleges and they have to pay for it. This is something where she's getting an opportunity strictly through Kickers being an Adidas club."
Halstead earned honorable mention All-State honors from the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association as a sophomore after scoring four goals with eight assists to help the Red Raiders reach the WIAA Division 2 state championship game.
She will team with fellow All-State pick Liz Bueckers to make the Red Raiders one of the top teams in the state next season.
"Going to France is exciting," Halstead said. "Not only will I get the chance to train with one of the most successful clubs in women’s soccer but I will be able to experience the French culture."