Marlton Welcomes Carli Lloyd Back to New Jersey

By Erin Delmore

Worldwide soccer star and Jersey girl Carli Lloyd expected 50 summer campers in Marlton today. Instead, she got hundreds of soccer fans — girls and boys — eager to meet the World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

“She’s so, like, inspiring and she’s such a great player. Then when I watch her games, I want to play like her,” said Olivia Vricella of Medford.

“It’s so cool, like I can’t believe it. It makes me want to be like, it makes me want to train harder because it makes me think that I can be like her, too,” said Grace Gilmore.

This is the Blue Barn in Marlton, where Carli Lloyd and her coach James Galanis practiced from November to March three to six hours a day. Now, a court is named in her honor.

When asked how it’s going to feel to walk onto Carli Lloyd Court, after all the hours she’s spent practicing, Lloyd said, “It’s going to be great. I mean, you know, it’s going to make me realize, you know, how thankful I am for everything, for the opportunity to be here. Who knows, we might even have some spectators, you know, crowding around and watching us train. It’s good. This is what it’s all about, bringing communities together.”

Evesham Township Mayor Randy Brown — a coach for the 2012 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens — presented Lloyd and her coach with a gift.

“Wherever and how often your journey leads you home, this key to the Blue Barn will always unlock the door,” Brown said.

Lloyd grew up in neighboring Delran Township. Parents say her story is inspirational.

“Well the fact that she’s from South Jersey, so close to home, is huge for my kids to say, ‘Hey, someone from this area, by working hard, with good values can make it on a national and worldwide scale.’ So it’s really, really exciting. I’m happy,” said Lea Ryan.

“As you can see, there’s nothing too glamorous about anything, my training, the fields that I train at, it’s just a grass field with some nets, some cones, some balls and this place is amazing,” Lloyd said.

Her coach says that fame and worldwide stardom haven’t changed Lloyd a bit.

“She was at the ESPYS and she texted me from there, ‘I miss the Blue Barn and I miss Arc Road.’ It’s the out door facility that we train at. Although she’s at this big, glamorous community, she’s wanted to get back home where she feels comfortable,” Galanis said.

By the looks of it, she’ll be welcomed back any time.