Before Carli Lloyd made her amazing hat trick in the Women’s World Cup final Sunday night, Delran Middle School teacher Carol Wolf knew that her childhood friend was going far.
“On one of the sleepovers, I recall saying, ‘We’ll make shirts and sell them for you,” Wolf said. “And that was maybe in middle school. She was that dedicated.”
While the nation is catching Carli fever, folks in the tiny town of her hometown of Delran, New Jersey are beaming with pride.
“I can’t put words to it,” said Brianna Taylor, 16, a junior at Delran High and a co-captain of the girls’ soccer team. “She’s a local hero. She’s a national hero.”
Delran is the type of place where people have long memories of high school sports stars. Former Arizona Cardinals Quarterback Tony Sacca came out of Delran High, as did Peter Vermes, a former member of the mens’ national soccer team who has a soccer field named in his honor in the town.
“We’re a small town, but don’t let our geographic looks deceive you,” says Bob Branca, who has lived in Delran for all of his 50 years. “Delran has a lot of accomplished people.”
Lloyd’s high school jersey still hangs over the trophy case at Delran High. She was number 10 back then too.
“Number 10 on the field but number one in our hearts,” joked principle Dan Finkle - who spent much of Monday showing visiting reporters Lloyd’s old yearbooks and arranging interviews on the soccer field.
Though she graduated in 2000, she continues to have roots in the town, and the school. After the women's team took home gold in the 2008 Olympics, they held a parade in her honor.
Kait Luber, 17, the other co-captain of the Delran High team remembers playing in a pickup game during a summer soccer clinic with Lloyd. She says she was about 8 or 9 years old at the time.
But yeah, she’s met Lloyd a bunch of other times too. Their brothers roomed together in college, she said.
“She’s so calm and confident on the ball,” Luber said.
During halftime of the game Sunday night, Celeste Taylor -- she's Brianna's mom -- was already looking to the future looking to the future. She was watching at Ott’s Tavern with relatives of Lloyd’s high school sweetheart and current fiancé.
Lloyd had already scored three times, twice in the opening minutes of the game and then had an amazing shot from the midfield circle. The mood at her party was jubilant to say the least.
"I hope we have another parade," said Taylor, who was wearing a Delran High School jersey, and whose daughter, Brianna, also plays soccer for Lloyd's high school alma mater.
For Wolf, the middle school teacher who was co-captain of the high school team with Lloyd, seeing her friend’s rise to stardom has been a little surreal.
“It’s crazy to see my students wearing her jersies and writing biographies of her,” Wolf said. “I ask them what they want to be when they grow up and they say 'Carli Lloyd,' and I used to sleep at her house.”