East Meadow soccer star plays in inaugural Allstate All-American Cup

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Stephanie Sparkowski was one of 40 high school girls from across the country to compete in the inaugural Allstate All-American Cup on July 21 in Orlando, Fla.

The rising senior and goalkeeper on the East Meadow High School girls’ varsity soccer team has been playing since she was 5. Last month she had the opportunity to showcase her skills alongside other top players.

Allstate Insurance Company collaborated with MaxPreps, a sports news outlet run by CBS, and evaluated roughly 800,000 high school soccer players around the country before choosing 250 who earned the title of Allstate All-American.

Forty boys and 40 girls from among them were selected to compete in the insurance giant’s first tournament, which was televised on ESPNU and is available to stream at https://t.maxpreps.com/33w8zIY.

Allstate teamed up with four former members of the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams, who coached the 80 All-Americans, and Sparkowski played under the direction of two-time FIFA women’s World Cup champion and 1996 and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Ju-lie Foudy.

“Foudy was so much fun, and had a lot to teach,” said Sparkowski, who grew up in East Meadow. The other coaches were Brandi Chastain, Brian McBride and Taylor Twellman.

Lightning and heavy rain halted the tournament after just a half-hour, but in that time, Sparkow-ski’s team was 1-0. And the trip was more about the experience than the results, she said. “Having this opportunity to be one of the top high school players and then go and play with the best was something that I’ll never forget,” she said.

Sparkowski found out about that opportunity in December, at an EMHS boys’ varsity basketball game. The girls’ varsity soccer coach, Adam Hananel, surprised her at halftime by asking her to stand up, and announced that she had been named an Allstate All American.

Sparkowski began her soccer career at 5 with the East Meadow Soccer Club, and has been immersed in the sport virtually her entire life. Her older brother Daniel has played since he was a child, and has always been her biggest inspiration.

“I became very competitive, especially with him, and I wanted to beat him at everything,” Stephanie said. “Just having him as my older brother gave me a forever role model that taught me so much.”

She moved up from EMHS’s junior varsity squad to the varsity in eighth grade, and this season she will be the team captain for the third straight year. She has received All-Conference, All-Class, All-County, All-Long Island and All-State honors, and was named the Northeast Conference Goalkeeper of the Year. She has also played for the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program, a national nonprofit that trains young soccer players.

Sparkowski joined at 12 and played on the organization’s New York, Northeast Conference and national teams. She still plays for the national squad.

“But anyone who knows her knows she’s not just a special talent on the soccer field,” Hananel said, “but an even better person, teammate and friend.” Sparkowski also plays on the high school’s girls’ basketball team, has a grade point average of 98 and is a member of the social studies and math honor societies.

She credits all of the above for helping her attract the attention of the University of Michigan when she was just 15. She will start her college soccer career there in the fall of 2020.

Sparkowski hopes someday to be drafted by the National Women’s Soccer League, and to represent the U.S. on the world stage. “I’ve always wanted to go on and play soccer beyond college,” she said. But first, she added, “I want to be the best that I can be, and bring my team to the NCAA tournament appearances.”

Brian Stieglitz contributed to this story.