Lauren Hall and her family had talked about the Honduran National Team, but the Ball State soccer player never realized just how good her chances were of actually being on it.
Hall was eligible as the daughter of an American mother and a Honduran-born father, but playing at the national team level seemed like a lofty goal as she grew up learning the game in Illinois.
“It was something we talked about as a kid,” Hall said, “but I never thought I would reach that level.”
Well, consider it now reached.
Hall spent her Thanksgiving break at a tryout for the U-20 Honduran National Team in the city of Siguatepeque. She trained with the team, worked out for the coaches and played in scrimmages. On Sunday, the news came; they wanted her on the team.
Just a few short weeks ago, Hall was making the decisive penalty kick to lift Ball State into the championship game of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Next month, she will be playing in a U-20 World Cup qualifier.
“I’m just overwhelmed by the opportunity,” Hall said. “Not a lot of people have a chance to represent a country. I’m very proud to be able to wear those colors.”
The former Arkansas transfer who just completed her first season with Ball State becomes the second recent Cardinal to play for a national team. Pavla Benyrova, who finished her Ball State career last year, is a member of the Czech Republic National Team.
Hall’s success has deep meaning for her family, as well. She traveled to Honduras for the tryout with her father Hilton, who returned to his home country for the first time in 30 years. One of 14 siblings, Hilton moved to the United States when he was 8 years old.
On their trip last week, Lauren was able to see the house where her father lived as a child. When she wasn’t training with the team, she and her father spent the few days they had visiting with family.
“My dad is so happy,” Hall said. “I’ve had the chance to meet family in Honduras that I probably never would have met. I’m making all of them proud, which makes me really happy.”
It was one of her uncles, Harold Hall, who helped get the ball rolling by contacting the Honduran coaches a month or so ago. They were immediately interested and asked for video of Lauren in action. After watching it, they invited her down for the tryout where she met the national team players for the first time.
“I got along with all of the girls on the team,” Hall said. “One challenge was that they speak only Spanish. I’ve had Spanish classes, but it was extremely difficult for me to communicate, so that was hard. But we managed to make it work on the field.”
Hall won’t have much time to work on that Spanish. She returned to campus after the tryout to complete the fall semester but will fly back to Honduras around Christmas. The team then has some exhibition games scheduled in Costa Rica.
The first major event comes in January when Hall and her teammates will travel to the Cayman Islands to compete in a qualifier for the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
“It shows you the hard work and commitment Lauren has put in,” Ball State head coach Craig Roberts said. “It’s going to be a great to have her representing our program at a national level. It’s tremendous for her as a player and for all of us at Ball State.”