USWNT midfielder Andi Sullivan joined husband Drew Skundrich and Russell Canouse at an event over the holidays hosted by PA Classics to discuss their professional soccer careers.
The trio of pros all play in the Washington D.C. area now - Sullivan for Washington Spirit, Skundrich for Loudoun United and Canouse for DC United - but they were comfortably at home with a crowd of a couple hundred kids, parents and coaches at the event held at Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim.
“I know how important my club was to me growing up and how important older players were in my club to look up to and mentor me or give me inspiration,” said Sullivan, who grew up in Virginia and played for Lee Mount Vernon SC, McLean Youth Soccer, Bethesda SC and the Olympic Development Program. “I feel like my circle has just expanded because I get to come in here, learn about (Drew’s) experience, learn about Classics, meet former coaches and then connect with those players as well. It's honestly been such a joy.”
PA Classics President Doug Harris moderated a panel discussion with the three players and touched on different aspects of their journey from youth soccer to the pros. A raffle of jerseys - including an AC Milan jersey for fellow Classics alum Christian Pulisic - was also held. The line for autographs stretched through more than half of the large conference room.
Canouse and Skundrich both grew up in the Hempfield community in Lancaster County and were in high school together briefly before Canouse joined the New York Red Bulls Academy and moved to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim as a 16-year-old. Both players trace their youth careers back to the early days of PA Classics, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2024.
“It's special anytime we can come back and you know, give advice to younger players and give back to the community we grew up in,” Canouse said, who has played for DC United since 2017. “It’s super special to me.”
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Skundrich and Sullivan married in 2019. They met at Stanford where they both won national titles in 2017. The 2017 title for Skundrich was the third straight and capped his college career back home at Subaru Park in Chester, Pa.
He went on to play for Philadelphia Union II, Sacramento Republic, DC United and most recently Colorado Springs Switchbacks before signing recently with Loudoun United.
“When I was younger I idolized professional soccer players so any chance I got to interact with one was really special,” said Skundrich, who recalls specifically the impact of meeting fellow PA Classics alum and former MLS player Andrew Wenger. “To be able to give that back to the club that gave me so much that made me into the player that I am today is incredible and to share the stage with one of my childhood teammates in Russell and my wife is incredible.”
Harris covered a wide range of topics with his questions, from the college recruiting process to what went into the preparations for Sullivan to convert a penalty kick on the world’s biggest stage at the 2023 FIFA World Cup.
“I just think it's unbelievable for kids to be able to have access to pros that have been through all these different levels,” Harris said. “They've grown up through a youth system, they've come into this professional lifestyle and what it took for them to be able to sit down here and really make it a personal story for these kids is awesome. I was watching the faces of these kids and it's just great.”
All three spent time signing autographs, posing for photos and catching up with club coaches and officials.