You need to understand that for me, Allyson and Chantelle Swaby, are simply two great kids that spent a fair amount of time in my house growing up because they were on many of the same teams as two of my daughters – and Kerry and I had the pleasure to coach them both in multiple sports throughout middle and high school. And, like a lot of my daughter’s teammates, or my former athletes, they either attended or worked 2-4-1 on multiple occasions over the past decade. From 5th through 12th grade – – every winter I would watch as my daughter Alannah would either snag a rebound or a create a steal, and would immediately look up knowing she could simply throw the ball “into space” and Allyson would run on to it and lay it in uncontested. I was coaching Chantelle (2 years younger than her older sister Allyson) when she was in the 6th grade and she was anchoring a 4×400 relay. She had never run the event before and her team was getting scorched by the time she got the baton. The girl in the lead was comfortably coasting with a nearly 150 yard lead when I asked Chantelle if she thought she could catch her just before receiving the hand-off. She didn’t say “yes”, she just sort of smiled, changed her focus and went into a gear that was simply super human for a kid that age. I wish I had an actual clock on her, but I’ve been around track and field long enough to know that the long-legged wonder was well under 65 seconds on that lap, but may have actually broken 60 which would win most high school track meets – Chantelle was 12 years old at the time.
Funny that I knew them as much as basketball, lacrosse and track athletes as I did as soccer players….
I shared the following in a newsletter back in the fall of 2018.
Allyson and Chantelle will be playing soccer in the World Cup in France this June. You can read all about it HERE, because if my long-winded self gets caught telling the whole story – it’ll likely come off as a screenplay transcript and I’ll want Disney doing the sequel to the Jamaican Bobsled Team movie “Cool Runnings”. But, in all seriousness – this story is movie worthy. You see, Jamaica didn’t even have a program the last time the World Cup was played and if it wasn’t for the daughter of legendary Reggae artist, Bob Marley who helped fund the team – they wouldn’t have a squad to go this round either. Allyson and Chantelle’s father is from Jamaica, and as such, they are obviously eligible to represent the country of either parent’s birth. Ironically, their path to the world cup, went through Team USA where they got a chance to play against their heroes (look at the photo of Allyson chasing down Alex Morgan, arguably the best player in the world right now).
But, Allyson also gave me permission to share the Instagram message she posted the day after their qualifying victory…
|That’s Allyson in the center and the following is the actual full text of her inspiring post…” When one door closes another door opens. Deciding to keep playing soccer after my graduation in May was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. If you know me well, you know I’m a very practical person who is always thinking about creating a secure future. With that being said, I chose to follow my PASSION and keep playing the game I love, the seemingly least secure choice at the time. Here I am now, with the opportunity to play at the World Cup, surrounded by a group of girls who have all sacrificed more than many of you know. The road to this moment was not always glamorous and we still have a long journey ahead. I hope that our team can show girls from any country, big or small, that you can follow your dreams FEARLESSLY. This moment is so much bigger than the game and I know that the future is a little brighter for every young female footballer. This is history, HER story, and OUR story.”|
Of all the athletes I have worked with over the past three decades, the ones that have gone on to compete at the highest level have all come from some sort of multisport background. Allyson and Chantelle are no exception. But, it is particularly gratifying to me that it’s kids from my own neighborhood and my children’s own past that take their early childhood experiences of play and prove out the principles of physical literacy and long term athlete development to arrive on the world’s biggest stage. I still think of both of these young women as children, but what stands out to me is Allyson’s sentiment when she says, ” I hope that our team can show girls from any country, big or small, that you can follow your dreams…” That’s the power of sport right there – it’s not so much about the outcome as it is about the pursuit.
As most of the above was shared a few years back, here’s a quick update on the Swaby girls. First off- we were blessed to make it to the girls first game at that World Cup back in 2019 (just the summer before the whole world shut down). It was a trains, planes, and automobiles journey to get there but was so worth it. Here are just a few of the moments as they happened.
Since the World Cup, Chantelle has graduated from Rutgers University (2019) and is now a member of the Rangers Football Club in the Scottish Women’s Premier League.
Allyson went on to be named Captain of the Jamaican national team in 2021 and recently ended a 4 year career with Team Roma in Italy before signing with the Angel City Football Club in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) – the top Women’s Soccer league in the United States and is considered by many to be the best in the world.
As we celebrated National Girls and Women in Sports Day (#NGWSD) this past week, I reiterate Allyson’s quote here to help bring this to a close: ” I hope that our team can show girls from any country, big or small, that you can follow your dreams…”
May everyday be Girls and Women in Sports days and may we always encourage all girls to follow their dreams in sports — and perhaps help them know that one path to fulfilling them is to not only do that one sport growing up! Who knows, maybe one day they’ll get to play in the World Cup! 🙂
About Steve Boyle
Steve is the Executive Director of 2-4-1 CARE, Inc and Co-Founder/Director of 2-4-1 Sports -- a signature program of 2-4-1 CARE-- whose flagship program is held at the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Conn. but now has locations throughout the United States and Canada. 2-4-1 was recognized by the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC as one of eight model programs in the United States for its approach to anti-specialization in youth sports. This led Steve to form the National Association of Physical Literacy – of which he is now Advisory Board Chair. Steve is also a founding member of the Quality Coaching Collective – an international group of activators around sport, movement and mindfulness. Lastly, through his role at CCG, Steve was the two-year Global Lead on Physical Literacy and Athletics for Whittle School & Studios (2018-20), which currently has campuses in Shenzhen, China and Washington, DC.