It was an hour before game time on Thursday when the Centennial girls soccer team was set to host its biggest county rival, River Hill.
Centennial senior Elsa Wu, a captain and the team's focal point on offense, was not nervous.
Not yet anyway.
That doesn't happen until she's standing there waiting for the first whistle to blow. When the momentary butterflies come, she knows she's ready to go.
Wu, a midfielder/forward in her fourth season on varsity, also plays guard for the Eagles basketball team and has played tennis for two years after running outdoor track as a freshman.
Wu is a member of the National Honor Society and Habitat for Humanity, and she is also in a mentor program with Integrated Recruiting Consultants, a sales recruiting and consulting firm.
Wu is undecided on a college but plans to play soccer and is leaning toward a major in economics.
She enjoys watching 24 on television and reading Harry Potter.
How did you get started in soccer?
I've been playing since first grade. I started because my older brother, Eric, played, so I would go to his practices and watch him play and thought I wanted to be just like him.
How big an influence was your brother?
He was a really big influence on me. I played soccer because of him; I played basketball because of him; I played violin because of him before I had to quit last year because of everything else I was doing. Some of the courses I have taken in high school were based on what he took.
What is it about soccer that makes it your favorite sport?
It's just the game itself. It can always go either way. You go out there on the field, and every game you try to get better as a team. We make the most out of it, and it's just a great feeling when you go out there and play your best. If you win, it's an awesome feeling, and if you lose, you work on your weaknesses and try again.
What's your approach to your senior season?
I see it as my last year to win everything. In my freshman year, we came really close. We won the county, region and then fell just short in the state finals. I still remember there was like 14 minutes left in the game and we were down, 1-0, and [a teammate] crossed me the ball. I was right in front of the goal, and it hit off my chest and rolled out of bounds. I just want that chance back. This year, if we get there, I'm going to put the ball in the net.
How does this being your last year of high school motivate you?
It's really big motivation because I know we have the ability to play at that top level, and it's always disappointing if you don't. So I just really want to get it done.
What do you enjoy most, scoring a goal or getting an assist?
I think the assist is actually more important sometimes than actually scoring, because without the assist, there's not a goal. And it's always nice to play a really nice ball to your teammate and watch them score. You get to share the glory.
What's it like being a team leader?
I have to set a good example, so I have to work hard in practice every single day and inspire my teammates to work at that same level. Also, when I'm on the field, I have to stay composed. Sometimes I get frustrated, but I can't let that show or else it will affect the whole team. So I have to stay focused and always do my best.
What is it about economics that caught your interest?
Ever since I was little, my parents would show me their stock market accounts. They would show me the graphs and I would try to figure out what it meant. It kind of grew from there.
With all the sports and other school activities, how do you manage your time?
I just really like everything I'm doing so much [that] I make the time. If I lose a little sleep, that's all right. I can make up for it in the summer.
If you could ask President Bush one question right now, what would it be?
You should have stopped while you were ahead. That wasn't a question, but more of a statement.